When 65 per cent of Arizona voters pulled the “yes” lever for Proposition
200, many thought the fight for medical marijuana was over in the desert.
Yet politicians in the Barry Goldwater state think they know better than
the people who elected them, and are maneuvering to block enforcement of
Proposition 200 allows for the prescription of Schedule 1 drugs to serious
or terminally ill patients in Arizona, as long as two doctors agree that
such action would be beneficial.
support for Prop 200, the Arizona House of Representatives passed Bill
2518 in mid-April, which effectively blocks the enactment of the Proposition
until the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves medical usage
of the substances in question, including marijuana.
heralded 2518 as a way to keep “pothead doctors” from writing scripts for
the herb, until a more permanent anti-pot countermeasure could be passed.
Some liberals who voted for the bill said they did so because enacting
Prop 200 would have placed the state of Arizona in violation of US federal
Research vs Action
“The issue is a bi-partisan one,” says Victor Tawlak from the Arizona State
Senate Democratic minority office. “Democrats, Republicans and independents
alike are all for marijuana being used for medical purposes. It’s the wording
of the law that is causing division. As it stands right now, the FDA is
holding a moderate view on the issue. They are going to do research on
the issue. If the FDA does find some benefits for medical use, the state
laws really won’t matter.”
Area activists feel the FDA wouldn’t be doing the research at all if so
much publicity had not been generated from Prop 200 and a similar ballot
measure that passed in California, but that research is not what the voters
of Arizona asked for.
“The politicians are ignoring the people that put them into office,” said
registered Phoenix voter TJ Woodward. “They’re basically saying that the
people of Arizona don’t know enough to think for themselves. Yet on that
basis, the politicians themselves don’t deserve to be in office. We ?ignorant
voters’ are the ones that put them into power. I think we need to do something
to remind these bureaucrats how democracy is supposed to work. We passed
the proposition and it is their duty to respect our wishes.”
The people behind the Proposition 200 effort have started an offshoot group
called The People Have Spoken in an attempt to gather some 56,000 signatures
by July 20 to block enactment of House Bill 2518.
Dr Jeffrey Singer of the new group echoed Woodward’s sentiment, saying
“Bill 2518 is a slap in the face for the democratic process. It’s really
sad that the government has no respect for what the people clearly want.
Hopefully these new petitions will finally make them do their jobs and
Although it has received major local press coverage, Arizona Governor Fife
Symington’s office claimed to be unaware of the petition effort at press
Ignorance vs Truth
Republican Senator John Kaites, a proponent of Bill 2815, feels voters
were duped into passing the proposition and has joined forces with fellow
Republicans to fight the petition effort. “This time, we’re ready. We do
not intend to leave the people uninformed this time,” he said. “People
need to know all of the facts before they make a decision. The ballot wording
was put in a way that people weren’t really clear on what it meant.”
When asked why their conservative party didn’t mount an organized effort
to stop the initial proposition before the November election, Kaites side-stepped
the subject. “The people were duped by the proposition effort. Now is the
time for people to realize the complete facts of the issue. That is why
we passed the bill.”
Research by Arizona State University professor Bruce Merrill in February
of this year indicated that eighty-seven percent of Arizonans queried thought
doctors should not be able to prescribe “street drugs” (whatever those
are) until they are approved by the FDA.
Special Assistant County Attorney Barnett Lotstein cited the poll as evidence
of an unclear proposition. “Our office’s objective at the present time
is to follow the law, by requiring that the drugs have FDA approval before
they can be prescribed as medicine. We are working within the community
to make sure the people know the whole story this time.”
then the USA
Those who supported the proposition and now the petition may simply want
doctors to be able to prescribe Schedule 1 drugs in Arizona, but it is
also likely that they are hoping to generate enough publicity to force
the federal government to address the medical marijuana issue, and even
the issue of cannabis prohibition as a whole.
Paul Armentano of
the American NORML office in Washington, DC explained, “The real significance
of the Arizona initiative is that it directly challenges the federal government’s
position that marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance – defined
as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in treatment.
The passage of recent initiatives legalizing the medical use of marijuana
clearly illustrate that a majority of the American people disagree with
the government’s placement of marijuana as a Schedule 1 prohibited drug.”
Regardless of the angle, the result is some of the most significant progress
on the American legalization front this decade. Current events in Arizona
are contributing to what may become a permanent set-back to the American
federal government’s vicious War on Drugs.
By Jas Tynan
200 also provides for the probation of currently jailed non-violent drug
offenders, yet although the State Department of Corrections has estimated
that about 1000 inmates are eligible for release under the new law, none
have been released.
The Arizona Department of Corrections is submitting a list of inmates to
the State Board of Executive Clemency, which is to review the list and
determine which of the prisoners will be freed. No specific time-line has
been set as of yet, but the Corrections Office has hinted at an upcoming
For more Info
at PO Box 50434, Phoenix, Arizona 85076; tel (602) 730-0032 or (602) 395-0353;
email [email protected]; http://www.amug.org/