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Senators visit UC for medical marijuana forum

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Posted at 8:03 AM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 15:19:40-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Two state senators stopped in Cincinnati as part of an effort to gather public opinions about medical marijuana.

Republican Sen. Dave Burke, of Marysville, and Democratic Sen. Kenny Yuko, of Richmond Heights, are holding a forum at 11 a.m. Thursday at the University of Cincinnati's Kresge Auditorium.

The event comes as the Legislature contemplates its next move on medical marijuana.

"It's time for us to get this thing approved and start reaching out," Yuko said. "This is not about becoming a millionaire, monopolies -- it's about saving lives, and the quality of life for so many people who are suffering."

Northside resident Nicole Scholten said her daughter, Lucy, is one of those people suffering. Lucy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, which make day-to-day life difficult. She often suffers from more than 100 seizures per day.

"Lucy is a kid who's trialed 12 different invasive and challenging epilepsy drugs that have come with terrible side effects themselves," Scholten said. "And all of them have failed to help her condition, have failed to reduce her hundreds of daily seizures."

Scholten said she believed medical marijuana would change Lucy's life, citing research that found other children treated with medical marijuana have shown cognitive gains, brighter eyes, improved alertness, mobility and communication.

However, Ohio voters resoundingly defeated a marijuana proposal last fall that would have legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use. While unsuccessful, the effort made clear that a future question focused on medical marijuana could pass if lawmakers don't act.

The senators heard Ohioans' opinions about making marijuana available for limited medical uses during the forum. Yuko said he believed many people could benefit from medical marijuana.

"It's veterans coming back with PTSD, the senior citizens with cancer, glaucoma, MS, the list goes on and on," Yuko said. "These are people who we have the ability to help, but we're not helping because we have this silly perception."

Other forums are planned for Columbus and Toledo.