Oscar Robertson backs a measure that would legalize marijuana in Ohio

Oscar Robertson backs a measure that would legalize marijuana in Ohio

Legalization of marijuana for medical or personal use has failed to gain a major foothold in most Midwestern states. Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota all allow medical marijuana use, but no other Midwestern state and certainly no southern state have dug in to allow for legalization of pot under any circumstances, despite changing attitudes regarding the drug.

For decades, the state of Ohio has been seen as the America’s bellwether of sorts, a massive state that shares equal amounts of rural burghs, urban districts, and college towns. This split down the middle of typical left/right thinking and voting habits is why Presidential candidates focus so intently on the state during the latter days of their drive toward the election.

It’s also why this unlikely scenario is so interesting. Basketball Hall of Famer and longtime Cincinnati legend Oscar Robertson has tossed his support behind the group known as ResponsibleOhio, calling for the legalization of medical marijuana, and supporting the group’s bid to create legal and taxable outlets for citizens to buy marijuana for personal use.

From Robertson’s statement, via Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Jackie Borchardt:

"It's a terrible feeling when you can't help someone suffering from cancer or another debilitating medical condition -- I know from personal experience," Robertson said. "But medical marijuana can give our loved ones relief."

Robertson didn’t fully lend his support to the legalization of personal use, but several other prominent Ohioans (including former Brown and Bengal Frostee Rucker and designer Nanette Lepore) joined a cadre of less-famous but quite influential businessmen and academics to encourage support for the flat-taxed dispensaries, pointing out that the 15 percent tax would go a long way toward raising significant revenue for the state.

Reaction to ResponsibleOhio’s intentions to make the legalization of marijuana a priority in the Nov. 2015 ballot has, predictably, fallen in lockstep with the typical party lines. Robertson, who recently overcame prostate cancer, would not seem to have as much sway as elected Republican leaders, but the Cincinnati Bearcat legend, former Cincinnati Royal and longtime social activist can’t help but aid in the cause.

ResponsbleOhio’s Executive Director confirmed as much:

"The campaign is honored to have such well-respected businesswomen and men, as well as patient advocates supporting our effort to offer a common-sense solution to Ohio's failed drug policies," said ResponsibleOhio's Executive Director Ian James in a release.

The group and its supporters have nine months to change quite a few minds.

- - - - - - -

Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!