Spousal Rape Needs More Attention

Spousal rape is a rape that is less talked about in conversations about rape and rape culture because the power dynamic is more than just that of the perpetrator and the victim.

It is a rape that occurs between a husband and wife (or husband-husband or wife-wife).

In the state of Ohio, a person can be charged with rape if they impair another person’s judgment or self-control to prevent their resistance. This could be done through giving the victim drugs, controlled substances or any other intoxicant through force, intimidation or lying.

Spousal rape wasn’t included into Ohio law until 1986, but it was only if there was “force” or a “threat of force.” Situations where one spouse drugs another without their knowledge and rapes do not qualify as spousal rape under the law.

This is a loophole that victim advocates and state representatives are trying to close with House Bill 97, but only 17 lawmakers—all of them Democrats—have signed to co-sponsor this bill.

H.B. 97 would eliminate spousal exceptions for rape, sexual bettery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. Currently, spouses can only be charged with these crimes if the victim is either not their spouse or is their spouse but they live separately.

First, we have to establish that regardless if it is between two people who are married, rape is still rape and it can occur in marriages. Being married to someone does not stop human beings from being able to consent to sex on their own terms.

Second, the state government has to know (or should know by this point through H.B. 97) the spousal exemption of force or threat of force is hard to prove in the court of law. A victim spouse could have physical injury done to them due to the crime, but it would be disputed by courts as to whether or not the injury happened because of the rape or because of something else. A threat of force can easily be seen in courts as “he said/she said.” Both of these exemptions already make it hard for spouses to report cases of rape because not only are these two statutes going to be hard to prove in court, but the lack of presence could prevent spouses from getting rape kits in hospitals.

If we eliminate these exemptions from spousal rape, we may be able to see a start in spouses reporting their rapes and justice being served for these people, regardless if the perpetrator was their partner. Marital status and living situations should not be issues that are exempted from rape cases.

Last, I find it to be unsurprisingly disgusting that there is not a single Republican in the General Assembly who has co-sponsored this bill. While we have heard and seen our fair share of Republicans say horrid things about rape, abortion and Planned Parenthood, anyone– regardless of political party–should be able to see the importance of eliminating this loophole.

Rape is horrid and traumatic the United Nations considers it a war crime. It is unfair to believe rape cannot happen between two people just because they have their names on a marriage license together. Rape does not discriminate; rape is illegal and a crime. No one, not even spouses, should be exempt from being tried for that crime.

This column has been formatted for the internet and edited by the original author.
This column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Medicinal marijuana legalization requires substance reclassification

On Wednesday, June 8, Gov. John Kasich quietly signed House Bill 523, which legalized medical marijuana for the state, making it the 25th state in the nation to have medical marijuana.

The bill passed in the General Assembly by differing margins: It passed in the Senate 18-15 and in the House 67-28.

The legislation comes after ResponsibleOhio’s Issue 3 failed during last November’s election, where the legalization for both medical and recreational marijuana was up to the people to decide whether or not they would want 10 cultivators controlling over 1,000 dispensaries.

The bill will allow physicians to prescribe marijuana alternatives to patients who have one of the multiple ailments listed in the law.  The law will go into affect in less than 90 days, with the hopes of having marijuana plants being cultivated in the state within a year.

Under this law, smoking and growing marijuana will still be illegal, but alternatives such as oils, patches, edibles and vapors will be legal.

Currently, there are 20 medical conditions on the list that will allow people to obtain prescriptions for medical marijuana. Some of these include epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain that is either severe or intractable.

More ailments can be added to the list with approval.

Three boards will be overseeing and writing the laws pertaining to medical marijuana: the Department of Commerce, the Ohio Pharmacy Board and the Ohio Medical Board. The new law will also create a panel of 12 people to help advise the departments for the rules that are being formulated.

So what does this mean for the average Ohio citizen?

For starters, this new law does not hold any protections against employers taking action against employees for using marijuana medicinally.

If you have one of the 20 ailments currently on the list, you’re in luck! Come September, you will be able to receive a prescription from an authorized physician. Unfortunately, with the laws taking effect in 90 days, cultivation starting within a year, with products hoping to be tested in as early as 16 months, patients will have to receive their medical marijuana products from neighboring states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Keep in mind, marijuana in all forms is still illegal at the federal level. Traveling with marijuana or marijuana byproducts across state lines could cause someone to be prosecuted on federal drug trafficking charges.

But now that half of the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana medicinally, it is time for the Drug Enforcement Agency to stop procrastinating on the reclassification of marijuana and start working toward doing so.

Presently, marijuana is a Schedule I, which means it has no medical benefits and it is highly addictive. This labeling over the course of the last 20 years has become very outdated.

With the Schedule I labeling comes the inability to research more freely. Currently, the plant can only be obtained for research through one government garden and special grants have to be given in order for the research to be able to take place.

The DEA considers reclassifying drugs annually, but has been reluctant to reschedule marijuana since classifying it as Schedule I in 1970, and have declined on multiple occasions to reclassify it.

The DEA decided in May to consider reclassifying marijuana by the end of summer, but summer has started and we are approaching Independence Day.

With half of the nation, including Washington DC, now legalizing the plant medically, we cannot afford to keep marijuana at the classification it is without being able to have the proper research on it.

This story has been edited and revised by the original author.
The original edition of this column appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.