The proposal was submitted to Ashland Law Director, Rick Wolfe, on May 13th for a review of legal language. Once the approval has been granted the group intends to submit it to the city council.
The political action committee spearheading the proposal goes by the name Ashland Sensible Law Reform. On their Facebook page ASLR says its mission is to "educate the public on the benefits of cannabis (marijuana) and how regulation of marijuana cuts down on crime rates."
A Facebook post from April 14th says that ASLR has discovered that Ashland's marijuana laws are much more strict than the state of Ohio's suggestions. This, they explain, means that Ashland tax payers are responsible to cover any legal fees or incarceration expenses related to marijuana offenses.
Brandy Sheaffer, ASLR's spokesperson, says that part of the objective is to stop nonviolent marijuana offenders from experiencing further life hindering penalties, such as incarceration, loss of drivers license, and hindrance in obtaining student loans or employment.
Another Facebook update, dated May 13th, stated that the proposal, if adopted, would "decriminalize cannabis, up to 199 grams, in Ashland to a $25.00 waiverable ticket." Marijuana users who conform to these protocols would receive "no jail time, no loss of drivers license, no court cost, [and would not have to report] to state agencies."
Sheaffer summarized the proposal by saying that the initiative will help reduce expenses taxpayers in Ashland bear.
Sheaffer is also part of a number of cannabis activist organizations. She says that she has "personally witnessed the medicinal benefits of cannabis." Sheaffer said she practiced nursing for 15 years until she became disabled with 3 brain tumors.
"I believe that God placed cannabis, and all natural plant, on this earth for medicinal purposes," said Sheaffer.
She continued, "I realized that the laws proved the ignorance of the judicial system and use of cannabis for chemotherapy patients, epilepsy patients, MS patients, Parkinson's patients, PTSD, and so on."
Sheaffer elaborated on medicinal benefits and expressed how it can even be superior to chemotherapy.
"It gives [cancer patients] an appetite and eases their mind; not slowly shutting their respiratory system down. It is impossible to overdose on cannabis to the point that it kills you unlike pharmaceuticals. It has no place on the schedule of drugs, especially schedule 1 which says its deadly and of no medical use."
Sheaffer also noted that marijuana is being used as medicine in other U.S. states and in places like Israel.
While Sheaffer touts the medicinal uses of cannabis, she also believes that criminalizing marijuana users is a great injustice.
"People who use cannabis without fear of prosecution are not violent or criminals." Repeatedly she described recreational users as "nonviolent criminals," as a way of saying that many who use the drug do no harm and, subsequently, do not deserve to be labeled as a criminal.
She goes on to explain that that prosecution only causes a further drag on society. For one, users are put in prison, which is an environment that only serves to corrupt them.
She also noted that taxpayers bear an additional burden because they are required to pay for the time these nonviolent criminals serve.
While Sheaffer and ASLR hope see Ashland's strictures on cannabis brought into conformity with state's standards, the move will certainly have opposition. The newly formed Drug Free Ashland PAC will be one such voice.
Drug Free Ashland expressed objection in a statement to the Ashland Free Press regarding the proposal. Chris Tunnel went on record to say, "The amendment of chapter 513 of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Ashland to lessen the consequence of drug use will do nothing to aid prevention efforts...If and when the proposal is added to the ballot, we will join with the citizens of the City of Ashland in voting 'no.'"