The following is forwarded to CClist from US NORML.

California, Arizona Voters Approve Initiatives In Favor Of MedicalMarijuana

Voters in both California and Arizona have approved initiatives endorsingmarijuana’s therapeutic value and allowing patients to use marijuana formedical purposes where its use has been deemed appropriate by a physician.The result came despite heavy campaigning by opponents and decades ofanti-marijuana hysteria.

The passage of Proposition 215 in California and Proposition 200 in Arizonademonstrates that Americans can clearly distinguish between the use ofmarijuana as a medicine for serious ill patients and legalization forrecreational use. It further shows that the country has reached aconsensus on the former, even as it remains divided on the latter.

“This is a victory for medical marijuana as well as for patients anddoctors,” said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. “It shows thatAmericans do not want the federal government to interfere with therelationship between a seriously ill patient and the recommendation of hisor her physician.”

Both state and nationwide polls taken prior to this election’s vote haveshown that a majority of Americans favor medical marijuana reform. Therecent events in California and Arizona may finally push those on CapitolHill to take a close and objective look at this issue. It may alsoencourage some of the 23 states that currently have laws regarding medicalmarijuana to modify their measures so that they can begin directlybenefiting patients.

“These votes demonstrate that the public are ahead of the politicians whenit comes to reforming our drug policies, specifically medical access tomarijuana,” said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup. “Americans donot believe that denying medicine to the sick and dying should ever be apart of the drug war.”

The California initiative says that “Patients or defined caregivers, whopossess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by aphysician, are exempt from the general provisions of law which otherwiseprohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana.” It further providesthat, “Physicians shall not be punished or denied any right or privilegefor recommending marijuana to a patient for medical purposes.” The Actdoes not supersede state legislation prohibiting persons from possessing orcultivating marijuana for non-medical purposes.

“Despite heavy opposition from federal politicians and law enforcement, theCalifornia medical marijuana initiative passed because individuals know byeither their own personal experience or by the experiences of those aroundthem that marijuana has medical utility,” said St. Pierre. “The governmenthas lost all credibility on this issue by claiming otherwise.”

“With the passage of Proposition 215 in California, new legal protectionswill be put into place for patients who use marijuana under a doctor’sorder,” said Dave Fratello of Californians for Medical Rights (CMR), one ofthe primary proponents of the measure. The group also announced that theywill offer a toll-free number, 1 (888) YES-4-215, to explain how 215 works,and for whom it is and is not designed.

Proposition 200 in Arizona, known as the “Drug Medicalization, Preventionand Control Act,” is broader than California’s measure and wouldessentially “medicalize” Arizona’s drug policy. The Act calls formandatory, court supervised treatment and probation as an alternative toincarceration for non-violent drug users and provides expanded drugtreatment programs. It will also allow doctors to prescribe controlleddrugs such as marijuana to patients suffering from serious illnesses suchas glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS. Arizonans voted infavor of the initiative by a vote more than two to one.

“These votes give a flashing green light to the American public that theyhave the power to change the course on American drug policy,” said St.Pierre.

Dana Larsen [email protected]
Editor, Cannabis Canada, “Canada’s National Magazine of Marijuana & Hemp”
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