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Billionaire May Try to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Ohio

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    One of the biggest backers of medical marijuana in the country, Peter Lewis is seeking proposals to conduct a ballot initiative campaign to legalize marijuana for medical use in Ohio.

    Fifteen states, according to the request for proposals, have made marijuana legal for qualified patients, most through the passage of similar voter initiatives. The first was California in 1996.

    Now Lewis is considering pushing it through in his home state of Ohio. That’s where Progressive (nyse: PGR), the auto insurer founded by his father and run by Lewis for many years, is headquartered. Lewis, who now spends much of his time in Florida, gave up his CEO role in 2000 but remains chairman. About 90% of his net worth is held in shares of Progressive.

    “Of the states that continue to prohibit medical use of marijuana, Ohio stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support,” stated the RFP, “This provides an opportunity to enact a new law that will directly help patients and to do so in a manner that will serve as a model for other states.” The goal of the proposals, due May 15, is not just to pass a voter initiative legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio but to design a campaign that could create a model for future campaigns in other states. Funding will be based on whether someone can make a convincing case that Ohio is the best state in which to win.

    “You shouldn’t take it as a given that there will be a ballot initiative this campaign,” said Graham Boyd, Lewis’ lawyer and adviser, “But we want to see proposals.” He would not comment on whether Lewis is considering conducting similar ballot initiatives in other states.

    Lewis has already given millions to the reform group, Marijuana Policy Project including $900,000 in 2010. He also gave $200,000 in support of California’s Proposition 19, the bill that sought unsuccessfully last November to legalize marijuana in California. Other billionaires who gave money in support of that bill include George Soros and Facebook billionaires Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker.

    Lewis may have personal reasons for being so passionate about medical marijuana. He was once arrested for cannabis possession in New Zealand; his lawyer told the court he uses the drug to combat pain from a partial leg amputation.


    May. 3 2011 - 3:01 pm http://blogs.forbes.com/luisakroll/...ay-try-to-legalize-medical-marijuana-in-ohio/

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    The Daily Briefing: Billionaire Peter Lewis floating marijuana ballot issue

    Billionaire Peter Lewis is floating a proposal for an Ohio ballot issue to legalize medical use of marijuana.

    Lewis, a Clevelander who is head of Progressive Insurance, the nation's third-largest insurer, has given millions over the years to marijuana-related causes. Now he wants to bring the issue to his home state.

    Through his attorney, Lewis put out a request for proposals to pass an Ohio issue that will "create a model for future campaigns in other states."

    Following California in 1996, 14 other states have passed ballot issues legalizing marijuana for medically qualified patients, most through ballot issues.

    The RFP says Ohio "stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support. This provides an opportunity to enact a new law that will directly help patients and to do so in a manner that will serve as a model for other states."

    Lewis is seeking a proposal to include drafting ballot language, qualifying for the ballot, building an organization, communicating with voters, and raising money.

    Lewis was one of a trio of wealthy backers of an unsuccessful 2002 ballot issue substituting drug treatment for incarceration for non-violent drug offenders.

    A medical marijuana proposal was recently introduced in the Ohio House.


    Monday, May 2, 2011 10:16 AM
    BY ALAN JOHNSON
    http://www.dispatch.com/live/conten...er-lewis-floating-marijuana-ballot-issue.html
    The Columbus Dispatch
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