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Pro-Pot Group Promises Research Center If Voters Approve Issue 3

International Cannabinoid Institute
An artist's rendering of the research center that the International Cannabinoid Institute says it will build in Ohio if voters approve Issue 3.

A non-profit research organization says it will build a state-of-the-art cannabis research center here in Ohio if Issue 3 passes. And the plan is getting mixed reactions.

The International Cannabinoid Institute says it will build a $24 million laboratory in Central Ohio that will test and experiment with marijuana.

Dr. Sue Sisley says researchers are finding promise in tests that show marijuana could be effective for conditions including childhood epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

But Dr. Sisley says the research facility is contingent on one thing – voter approval of Issue 3, also called the ResponsibleOhio plan.

“If it passes then this will create a renaissance of marijuana research right here in this state. Suddenly you will move to the forefront of the most important marijuana research in the world,” Sisley says.

Sisley says currently she’s doing research in Arizona with strains of pot that are allowed through the federal research system. But she says the strains that could be produced here in Ohio at leased land on those ten official growing sites that would be established through Issue 3 could be more effective for research purposes.

“This isn’t in the back pocket of industry people. We have nothing to do with those ten license holders. We are trying to collect independent research objective data on how marijuana performs in humans. We intend to publish the good and the bad of marijuana.

“It’s not just like big Pharma where they only publish studies that make their drug look favorable. We have made a commitment to put it all out in the public domain so that everybody can see the risks and the benefits of cannabis in full disclosure.”

Sisley explained the group’s plan outside the Statehouse, where some who support legalized marijuana but oppose Issue 3 clashed with supporters of the ResponsibleOhio proposal.

A figure that resembled ResponsibleOhio’s cartoonish mascot Buddie smoked a huge joint as he attracted attention from onlookers.

Some of the Issue 3 opponents there say they think the medical research announcement is merely a way for ResponsibleOhio’s backers to make the plan more attractive.

“I’m against Issue 3. I’m against them using medical as a way to hawk Issue 3,” says Don Wirtshafter, an attorney from Athens who wants medical marijuana research but not ResponsibleOhio’s plan.

“I think these people have no idea about anything to do with drug development or creating a foundation or any of the things they are talking about here today. It’s all flim flam to boost issue 3,” Wirtshafter says.

ResponsibleOhio has been touting medical marijuana in its TV ad campaign for Issue 3. But the Ohio State Medical Association’s Tim Maglione says there are no positive health benefits at all for the personal use of pot that passage of Issue 3 would allow. 

And he doesn’t think the medical research being promised would go about the process the right way.

“There is research that is being conducted today and there are some studies that show it may have a beneficial medical use but that evidence is certainly not conclusive and more research does need to occur. However, we think that research needs to be done in the way that all drugs ultimately get approved for use and that’s through very rigorous clinical trials.”

If Ohio voters approve Issue 3, it will be the first time that any state has legalized both personal and medical use of pot at the same time through a single ballot initiative.