Let’s not fool ourselves – the budget bill is not just about the budget bill. Every budget bill will include pieces of legislation that the sponsor does not want to be debated or could not be passed on its own. It is done through the legislative process that is called an “amendment.” It does not necessarily have to have anything to do with the budget or state funding. We have two such pieces this year inserted into the budget bill passed by the House that really raised some eyebrows. One has to do with alcohol and the has to do with the new medical marijuana system.
First, an amendment was put into the Ohio Budget Bill at the last moment that would make alcohol-infused ice cream legal in Ohio. The bill would allow ice cream to be infused with up to 6% alcohol content per volume. This was originally introduced as House Bill 23 but had not had a hearing this year. We had been watching this bill, as alcoholic ice cream could pose a problem for youth. However, this bill was instead slipped into the House version of the budget bill.
Another piece that was slipped into the budget bill changes the information that doctors would be required to give someone before recommending marijuauna to a patient. Currently, the law states if a person is recommended for marijuana, the doctor is required to share with the patient the benefits and health hazards of using marijuana. In the current budget bill, that requirement would be stricken, basically allowing a doctor to recommend marijuana to people but not having to share all of the dangers of using marijuana.
We do have a chance to remove both pieces of this language through a couple of different ways. The bill has moved to the Senate and we must contact our Senators to let them know that we do not agree with these two pieces in the budget bill. We must let them know about the dangers of marijuana use and the absurdity of alcoholic ice cream and the dangers that it can pose to children.
Please contact your Ohio Senator by going to www.OhioSenate.gov and finding your Senator. The best way to convey your feelings is making a call to let them know what their constituents think about these two legislative amendments that compromise public health. It is time to take action and call today!
Tony Coder, Drug Free Action Alliance