By: Katie Sobiech
Though the Summit County Community Partnership (SCCP) fights for a variety of concerns, one big issue they are focusing on now is the Medical Marijuana Movement.
“There’s a lot going on. We monitor what’s happening with the legalization of marijuana, and there are a number of states that have some type of legalized marijuana law on the books,” Darryl Brake, Executive Director of the Summit County Community Partnership, said.
So far marijuana has been legalized in 21 states, with more pending… (www.medicalmarijuana.procon.org)
So, how has this been working? Brake says,
“It’s a nightmare for those states that have done that. The reality is it’s a nightmare. Many of the states that passed the law wish they never did, but they opened Pandora’s Box and they’re trying to control it.”
Legalization in Ohio
According to Brake, two groups tried to get legalization of marijuana on Ohio ballots in 2012. Even they weren’t able to get enough signatures to get it on the ballot, they continued to collect signatures.
“This was thanks to the work of coalitions across the state that make people aware of those two organizations,” Brake said.
“People who see it on the ballot and vote it in are ignorant or don’t know about marijuana,” Brake said, “All drugs in our country go through the FDA and the reason for that is those are the experts. It’s not an infallible system but it’s certainly known as one of the best systems in the world as far as testing, evaluating and releasing drugs to be used by consumers after they go through rigorous testing. What we’re saying is why give that decision-making to voters when voters know nothing and are not trained medically? They don’t conduct clinical trials or research and evaluation, the FDA does. Why not follow the FDA and let them evaluate marijuana and decide if it can be dispensed by a trained physician?”
The Problem with Marijuana
With medicinal marijuana being legalized, those who don’t even think they need it for medical reasons are taking advantage of it.
“What we’re learning is there are people that go into vacant houses and sell marijuana. The police in most communities have their hands full doing the work they already do, certainly not trying to bust hundreds, if not thousands, of marijuana houses littered throughout the city. They can work on major ones, but just can’t control that kind of situation,” Brake explained.
And that’s just one issue.
“Then we have people saying ‘I can rob them and don’t have to even do any of the work’. So then your crime goes up,” Brake said of its downfalls.
“It becomes very dangerous. Because the FDA is not involved, how do you know that when you purchase marijuana it’s really marijuana? How do you know that it’s not laced with bath salts or methamphetamine – that at your first two puffs create an intense addiction? Or some other kind of drug? Do you see how serious a problem that is?” Brake continued.
Educating the Public
“Our responsibility is to educate the community around medical marijuana,” Brake stated.
They did this last June by holding a Marijuana Summit at the Main Library in downtown Akron. Over 400 people attended, including national doctors and speakers.
Marijuana is also a growing problem among youth. Many don’t know what they don’t know, and are getting sucked into this addiction quickly.
“Young people have heard the term ‘medical marijuana’ and think ‘oh I can smoke that. It’s just a medicine’, but it was set up by those people who wanted to pass the law to deceive people. It’s not a drug, it’s a medicine – that’s what they want people to think,” Brake explained
A New Problem on the Horizon
Another issue that’s been surfacing is gambling addiction, which Brake says is a “fast growing problem”.
“There are certain qualities or behaviors of a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. There’s a way they behave, they’re an addicted person. There are things that they do. There’s a lot of things in society that people can be addicted to and one of the things that has been a real problem for years is that we’re getting casinos all over the country. What the alcohol and drug addicted agencies have (tackled) this year included gambling addiction in our treatment and prevention efforts,” Brake shared.
SCCP will be doing alcohol prevention, drug prevention, tobacco prevention and gambling or gaming addiction prevention as they move forward. July 1st of this year marked the beginning of their new program addressing these issues.
Working Together for Lasting Results
Now where does the faith community fit in?
“We’re everywhere. We need to mobilize as a group, and we do, and we work together where we’re at. The coalition stands with open arms to include everyone. The faith community has had an active role over the years and will continue to engage them,” Brake says.
They also work with government agencies, law enforcement and local non-profits, including ADM Services Board.
As for medical marijuana in Ohio, Brake says “It’s going to be legalized if we don’t fight it. Just like in Michigan. It becomes a major problem if it gets on our ballot.”
If you have any story ideas, questions, or comments you can contact: Katie@akroneur.com.