Ohio House leaders name task force to study medical marijuana

Backers of Fresh Start Act withdraw proposal

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio House leaders have named a task force of state lawmakers, business group leaders, law enforcement groups and others to study the issue of medical marijuana.

In announcing the panel, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said Thursday the group's goal is to take a holistic approach to studying the issue.

State lawmakers have been examining potential legislative steps to address medical marijuana after voters rejected a broad ballot initiative this past November. That proposal sought to legalize pot for medical and recreational use.

Rosenberger, a Clarksville Republican, said the initiative sparked debate on whether medical marijuana should be banned.

Polls suggest Ohio voters back legalized medical marijuana.

Task force members include former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz and advocates for medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, backers of an effort to purge old pot-related convictions in Ohio have withdrawn their proposal from consideration by state lawmakers.

An attorney for the supporters of the so-called Fresh Start Act wrote in a letter Monday to legislative leaders that his clients wanted the proposed law dropped from consideration and don't intend to try to get the measure before voters.

Rosenberger announced the details of the letter at a press conference Thursday evening. His office released a copy to the media.

The proposal had called for reviewing sentences and expunging criminal records for people with previous marijuana convictions if their actions would no longer be considered illegal.

The ResponsibleOhio campaign had advanced the plan; it was behind the legalization initiative that voters rejected.

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