State Rep. Wes Retherford acknowledges that he is not the likeliest person to propose legalizing a form of cannabis. But after reconnecting with a Marine Corps buddy with a sick child, the second-term Hamilton Republican experienced a change of heart.
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"I'm still not for full-blown medical marijuana. I'm not for recreational marijuana. I don't want kids getting stoned or anything like that," Retherford said Wednesday. "But I see the cannabis oil has been shown to have some medicinal effect when other drugs haven't done their jobs. It's something worth having a conversation about."
 
Retherford and eight other members of the state House introduced a bill this week that would legalize the prescription of cannabis oil to treat children with seizure disorders. Ten states now allow the use of the oil for children only.
 
The oil is made from a strain of the cannabis plant packed with cannabidiol, which works on the central nervous system to calm seizures, although the drug's action is not well understood. That particular strain is low in tetrahydrocannabinol, which causes the cannabis high.
 
Retherford said Wednesday he became interested in the potential of cannabidiol oil when he got reacquainted with Adam Benton. The two men had enlisted in the Marine Corps together, then lost touch. Last year, The Enquirer published a story about Benton, his wife Heather and their young daughter Addyson, who suffers from myoclonic epilepsy and experiences seizures that could be fatal if not controlled. Most traditional prescription treatments come with drastic side effects such as liver failure.
 
Retherford's bill would also allow for research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and other children's hospitals in Ohio into the effectiveness of the cannabidiol oil.
 
Retherford opposes a broad medical-marijuana program like those in 23 states and the District of Columbia. But his position on therapeutic oil has evolved. "Obviously, with my relationship with that family, it kind of helped guide it along. I've kind of changed a little bit on it."
 
"I've spent more time reading about it, checking into it," he said. "I decided that we at least should have some sort of bill drafted that would give this oil the opportunity for research and development through the various university and children's hospitals."
 
An organization called ResponsibleOhio is seeking to legalize cannabis in Ohio with tight regulation and a 15 percent tax on sales.
 
Anne Saker ~ Cincinnati.com ~ February 5, 2015
 
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