Med-pot ballots across the US

As the US election drew near, med-pot legalization swept the US, but faced many challenges.
Voters in Alaska and Montana were able to vote on med-pot legalization on November 4, after this issue went to press. Petitioners had collected the required number of signatures to put their issue on the ballot, and we will announce the election results next issue.

In some states, like Arkansas and Oregon, med-pot activists collected the requisite signatures, but it was unclear at press time whether these states would certify that the signatures were valid.

In Nevada, Secretary of State Dean Heller cancelled a med-pot ballot initiative after disqualifying thousands of votes. A district judge, however, ruled that the cancellation was unconstitutional, and ordered a reverification of the votes. Nevada passed a med-pot ballot initiative in 1998 and 2000 which allowed patients to use the healing weed, but voted down a 2002 proposal to fully legalize up to an ounce for possession. This 2004 initiative seeks to provide a legally regulated system of supply for medical users.

Cities taking action

Encouragingly, various US cities are tired of waiting for statewide action and are passing their own med-pot laws.

On August 3, residents of Detroit, Michigan, passed a ballot allowing patients to possess on condition they have their doctor’s approval. Ann Arbor, Michigan, will have voted on a similar ballot initiative on November 2.

Also on November 2, Columbia, Missouri, residents will have voted on two initiatives, one that demands fines only for misdemeanor marijuana offenders, and another which prevents medical users from being “arrested, prosecuted, punished or sanctioned.”

At the time of this writing, it was unclear whether Tallahassee, Florida, would allow residents to vote on a bill that would make marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in the city.

At least one US city refused to allow a marijuana initiative on the ballot. Activists in Minneapolis, Minnesota, put forward a bill that would require the city to license med-pot clubs, collecting 12,000 signatures. However, on August 17, City Council gave a thumbs down, despite a law which required them to approve the initiative. Activists plan to take the city to court.

California’s state of change

In California, where med-pot has been legal under state law since 1996, battles with anti-drug federal agents rage on.

On June 18, the Ninth Circuit Court, which includes California, told federal judges to rethink cases against four not-for-profit Californian med-pot clubs. According to the Ninth Circuit, federal laws do not apply in cases where med-pot is obtained within a state and without financial reward. Shortly after the June 18 order, US Attorney General John Ashcroft asked the US Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit decision.

On July 14 in San Francisco, med-pot activists ? including Cannabis Culture writer Ed Rosenthal ? protested a recent DEA med-pot raid outside of a California Highway Patrol Office. Some demonstrators planted live cannabis plants and scattered hemp seeds.

On July 20, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have allowed med-pot patients to carry any quantity of marijuana. Schwarzenegger reasoned that the bill would have blurred the lines between traffickers and legitimate medical users.

Canada and abroad

Canadian law professor Alan Young has announced a new case that would force the Canadian government to allow licensed med-pot growers to distribute their product to more than one patient.

Last year, the Ontario Court of Appeals ordered the Canadian government to make the same changes, but the federal government has yet to comply. Young plans to be a witness in the case, rather than legal counsel, as he hopes “to provide evidence of Health Canada’s obstructionist approach.” The case would champion the cause of the med-pot growing company Carasel, which was busted in the town of Smith Falls, Ontario, on August 4.

Southern Africa medical research groups are calling for the legalization of med-pot for the treatment of the region’s growing AIDS epidemic. Among these groups is Zimbabwe’s Southern African HIV and AIDS Information and Dissemination Service which published a study titled, AIDS Africa: Continent in Crisis, listing the benefits of marijuana therapy.