CLEVELAND -Citing reasons both political and personal, former Cleveland City Council President George Forbes endorsed Issue 3 on Friday-- the measure that would legalize recreational and medical marijuana, if voters approve it in November.
Forbes' political motivation stems from his belief that marijuana laws are unfairly applied against minorities.
"In the city of Cleveland," Forbes said, "out of every 10 people who are arrested for marijuana, eight of them are black."
His personal reason is his decades-long battle with osteoporosis-- a painful bone disease.
"I hurt so bad that sometimes I wake up at night and I cry," he said.
Forbes said his doctor has told him that medical marijuana would help ease his pain.
"So I speak for the seniors and people who can't speak for themselves," he said, "that this is something that is needed."
Forbes indicated he hopes that minorities can "buy-in" to the 10 investment groups that would own the exclusive right to sell commercial marijuana if Issue 3 passes.
"Now, we will have further discussions about opening up... a portion of that," he said.
"I believe there are some (investors) who are interested in entertaining that conversation even further," said Ian James, the executive director of Responsible Ohio, the group funded by the investors that is bankrolling the campaign.
Councilman Jeff Johnson was one of several community leaders who also lent their support to Issue 3. Johnson said diversity among investors and those who would own legal marijuana stores is key.
A group opposed to legalization, Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, responded to the Forbes news conference by noting the Ohio Hospital Association opposes the proposal, and added:
"Issue 3 is the wrong remedy to address concerns raised today. A broad bipartisan coalition opposes Issue 3 because it makes marijuana too available, it poses risks to our kids, and lines the pockets of a few select wealthy investors looking to lock a monopoly into the Ohio Constitution."
Voters will have their say in November.