Progressive Chairman Looks To Legalize Medical Marijuana In Ohio

NU Online News Service, May 4, 3:48 p.m. EST

The chairman of Progressive, once arrested in New Zealand for bringing small amounts of hashish and marijuana into the country, is looking to legalize medical marijuana in the insurer’s home state of Ohio, with an eye toward doing the same in other states.

Peter B. Lewis, once CEO of the Mayfield Village, Ohio-based insurer his father founded, has submitted a request for proposals to conduct a ballot-initiative campaign to legalize the medical use of marijuana in Ohio.

The RFP, received via e-mail from Lewis’ attorney Graham Boyd, says proposals to the billionaire should “describe a clear plan to meet two goals: pass a voter initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio and design, execute and document the campaign in order to create a model for future campaigns in other states.”

The proposal says 15 states have legalized marijuana for qualified patients, and of the states that continue to prohibit its use, “Ohio stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support. This provides an opportunity to enact a law that will directly help patients and to do so in a manner that will serve as a model for other states.”

Lewis’ arrest at a New Zealand airport 11 years ago was leaked by international wire services, but because his name was stricken from the record when a judge released Lewis without conviction, the press in New Zealand had to go to court to overturn the court order to suppress the insurance executive’s name. The arrest drew the attention of the Ohio Department of Insurance, which looked into the matter.

Funding for any ballot-initiative campaign will be provided based on a “persuasive presentation” that any manager can meet all the goals outlined in the RFP, it says.

Reportedly, Lewis uses marijuana for pain due to a leg amputation. The executive has reportedly been a big contributor to pro-marijuana policy projects, organizations and initiatives.  

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