Ohio's neighbor green lights recreational marijuana

Will that lead to legalization in Ohio?

CLEVELAND - Recreational marijuana gets the green light in that state up north.

Michigan is the tenth state to legalize recreational pot and the first in the Midwest.

Those pushing for legalization in Ohio told News 5 they're watching the roll-out there very closely.

Some believe it's not a matter of if anymore but a matter of when we'll see the same thing in the Buckeye State.

You could call medical marijuana the "gateway drug" to recreational use.

States like Ohio that embrace pot to help alleviate health issues frequently transition to legalizing its use recreationally.

"I unfortunately lost a friend to suicide eight years ago that had been on antidepressants for 10 days," said Darrin Farrow.

It was that tragedy that sparked Farrow’s interest in getting both medical and recreational pot use legalized.

"It's just a safer alternative that people should have the option to try," said Farrow.

Farrow said with Michigan now legalizing recreational pot, the momentum works in Ohio's favor, especially as our state prepares to launch its own medical marijuana program.

"The natural progression will be to recreational and easier access," said Farrow.

Cleveland attorney Ian Friedman agrees.

"It's not a matter of if anymore, it's just when,” said Friedman.

Friedman believes it may take a couple of years, but he expects Ohio to follow in Michigan's footsteps because he says it all comes down to cash.

"They see just how much money is going out of state for recreational, how much missed tax revenue there is then they implement recreational," said Friedman.

A warning for those Ohioans thinking of taking a road-trip across the turnpike to light up legally.

“Any intention to bring it back to Ohio would be problematic," said Friedman.

Friedman said he has already seen warnings from Ohio State Highway Patrol telling people they could be charged if they're caught leaving Michigan with pot.

"It could be possession of marijuana, which is a misdemeanor, or dependent upon the quantity or how it's broken up sometimes we even see trafficking," said Friedman.

While Farrow feels like the tide is shifting to legally allow recreational marijuana in more states like Ohio, he understands there are a lot of companies and lobby groups working against the move.

"Cannabis is a major disruptor to pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco. It's very apparent of what this can do for people's health naturally, but it will cause a lot of revenue loss in other industries," said Farrow.

In Michigan, it will now be legal to possess, use or transport small amounts of marijuana up to 2.5 ounces.

Residents there can also grow up to a dozen marijuana plants for personal use.

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