A portrait of a Marijuana Decriminalization Activist

Meet Kody, Marijuana Decriminalization Activist.

Fed up with the system and the way things are going,

Kody Barclay is like many Americans working more than 40 hours a week; and, like many Americans, he suffers from a history of medical problems. He has four autoimmune diseases. His insurance is great, yet his doctor bills continue to pile up.


His body started failing him back in 2010. This part of his life was one of many reasons behind him discovering a plant we banned in the 1930’s, during prohibition, was actually really important to his body.

“A lot people don’t know this, part of the reason our health is declining as a nation; cannabis has always been a part of our diet.” – Kody

A marijuana timeline provided by PBS reinforces from the 1600s through the early 1900s that hemp and marijuana were part of our everyday lives, from the clothing we wore to the over-the-counter medicines we used to treat our ailments. The Endocrine Society published an article written by several doctors and researchers who discuss the importance of the endocannabinoid system discovered in the 1990s. WebMD wrote “About 20 years ago, scientists discovered a system in the brain that responds to 60 chemicals in marijuana, also known as cannabis,” The Endocrine Society article concluded the endocannabinoid system plays a very important role in the secretion of hormones, protection against neurotoxicity, control of food intake and energy balance.

“For as long as we known, you had our livestock, you know poultry, all been raised on feral hemp, so always [marijuana] has been part of our diet” – Kody

It has been a long time since California passed the first medical Marijuana law in 1996. We know marijuana was approved by food and drug administration to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Later, marijuana federally approved to treat patients with HIV-induced wasting syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. CNN article, 10 diseases Where Medical Marijuana could have impact mentioned additional treatments still under clinical research: arthritis, asthma, certain cancers, chronic pain, glaucoma, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.  WebMD goes on to speak about research on autism, digestive disorders, and schizophrenia.


Kody continues to see the health industry overlook a natural remedy that would provide so much relief to so many people. The continual struggle with his own health for more than a half of a decade is a huge factor to his belief in medical marijuana. His main mission is to get medical marijuana mainstream.

“One of my biggest motivations for decrimalization and actual legalization of marijuana especially medically….

knowing heroin addicts start on prescription opiates, legal ones,

 knowing that a lot of our overdoses are Fentanyl based overdoses which Narcan doesn’t work,

knowing that [large amount] of all opiate overdoses deaths are prescription medication not heroin,

 knowing all these things

knowing the last study done they used marijuana/cannabis products to wean people off opiates that had chronic illnesses

If it was one life, why aren’t we doing it.” – Kody

Last year, US Senator Elizabeth Warren urged the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to research more if marijuana reform might help address the national opiate abuse problem.  There hasn’t been much change from last year.  The federal government doubling down on their 1930’s stance on criminalizing marijuana leaves only one strategy to decriminalizing marijuana county by county. It appears the only way to get cannabis back to its medical glory is to release the country from its ‘refer madness’ mindset by decriminalizing it.

About a year ago, Kody stopped being silent about his passion for marijuana reform. He joined  Eastern Central Ohio Decriminalization Initiative. Shortly after joining, he started working as NORML’s Secretary of Central Ohio. NORML (National Organization for Reform Marijuana Legalization) is a national organization to change the mindset of Americans regarding marijuana.


In June, he hit the pavement with Eastern Central Ohio Decriminalization Initiative collecting signatures for Sensible Newark. Their mission is to change the current marijuana law for counties of Eastern Central Ohio, including Newark. Current marijuana law in Newark, Ohio is a fine up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail for small amounts.  State of Ohio’s marijuana law for quite some time has been 100 grams or less is a fine of $150 no jail time. The ballot measure for Newark would eliminate fines and jail time for 200 grams of marijuana and 10 grams of concentrate.

Kody tells us why he supports more lenient decriminalization law in Newark over the State of Ohio’s current law:

“Main reason in my head that I support this the way it is written…it matches decriminalization initiatives that has already passed and is having great success. Great Success! My own personal and morale position is currently under house bill 523, the new Ohio law. We are instructing patients to go out of state and commit federal trafficking laws. In four days the affirmative defense law kicks in and if you happen to have doctor recommendation, good luck with that. You are allowed to have up to a 90-day supply, but nothing says what a 90-day supply is” – Kody

Kody and his team fought for simple ballot language; however, ended with very complex language on the November Ballot.


“[Jon Husted Secretary of Ohio State] was the one who turned down our ballot language and by the way the ballot language was part of the petition so the petition everyone signed solidified our ballot language that the secretary of state said ‘nope I don’t like it let the prosecutor rewrite it’ ” – Kody

“The review is administrative only and does not reflect Secretary Husted’s personal feelings on a proposed issue.” – Emily Groseclose Legislative Liaison

” We have a lot of work ahead of us to educate people of the nonsense ballot language.” – Kody

Kody is confident even with some negative press, even with losing the ballot language newarkbattle, the law will pass. He tells us his next step will be to get the word out to the Newark Voters.  He is scheduled for the Farm on Fire Music Festival to answer questions and get the message out. He is working with Eastern Central Decriminalization Incentive and the Newark Library developing times for additional Q&A sessions. These Q&A sessions will be important to help avoid losing votes due to the poor ballot language.

“We know Newark has the support. The citizens of Newark want this. A very small hand full of people were able to secure more than the required handful of signatures to put it on a ballot in a very short amount of time.” -Kody

House Bill(HB) 523 went into effect on Thursday, September the 8th which makes medical marijuana legal in Ohio. In Ohio, we now allow a 90-day supply of medicine; however, it may take up to two years for the state to get dispensaries up and running. The inadequacy of HB523 was one of the other major driving forces for Kody to stop being silent. He is frustrated by the statements from State Senator Kenny Yuko and Senator Dave Burke on the affirmative defense.

“Michigan or Pennsylvania. Get the product, come home, we’ll protect them with that card from law enforcement harassing them until we get our dispensaries up and running”. – Kenny Yuko

“Now, affirmative defense is like; if you get arrested, if you go to court, you have a defense. So after I get arrested, after I am fined, after I hire an attorney, after I pay court cost, I have a defense. A letter that may or may not hold up in court. That is affirmative defense and prime reason why I am personally pursuing this.” – Kody

There aren’t any Newark polls for the decriminalization of marijuana but we know there is national support for legalizing marijuana across the country. Samantha Cotton wrote in an article for Smart Business that roughly 70 to 80 percent of Ohioans support medical marijuana. Per the Quinnipiac University National Poll regarding marijuana treating PTSD in Veterans found 54 – 41 percent of voting Americans want ‘marijuana should be made legal in the United States’.

Kody needs the 54 percent of voters that support marijuana legalization to get out and vote. In fact, Kody’s journey doesn’t stop with Newark. This election year there is actually 6 cities in Ohio fighting for marijuana decriminalization. They call themselves The Sensible Six: Newark, Bellaire, Norwood, Logan, Byesville, and Roseville.


“One City at a time, the entire state of Ohio” – Kody 

We need Americans to check back into the political system. We need you to come out and vote in November and not for the President of the United States. We need you to vote for these local matters. 

Choose your corner, pick away at it carefully, intensely and to the best of your ability and that way you might change the world. – Charles Eames

Kody is part of four activist groups. Kody has checked back into politics. It was a long journey to become an activist. A life filled with many different turns. Those turns leading Kody to be what he is today: A Marijuana Decriminalization Activist.


“Changing the world is not easy I guess” – Kody

There are too many examples of how activism across the world and in the United States undergo the burden of making change: legal expenses, jail time, loss of employment, unjust retribution, amongst a few. Kody is risking everything to stand up for what is right, making changes at the local level and hopefully to the state of Ohio. His journey is not over; it just began.  

If you want to learn how you can take the journey with Kody: click here to take action with NORML or click here to donate.





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