CANNABIS CULTURE – Spark your joints in celebration: after two weeks in a dead heat between “Yes” and “No”, Arizona’s Proposition 203 has narrowly passed, making the state the 15th in the US to approve medical marijuana laws.
As tallies of uncounted final ballots flooded in at the end of last week, the “Yes” side pulled ahead, winning by only 4,341 votes, 50.13% of the 1.67 million ballots counted. The final tally: 841,346 in favour; 837,005 opposed. Here are the final vote totals by county from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.
The law will allow patients suffering from chronic or debilitating diseases including AIDS, cancer, and hepatitis C, who have a recommendation from their doctor and register with the state Health department, to grow up to 12 plants at home or buy 2 1/2 ounces every two weeks.
“We really believe that we have an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the country on what a good medical marijuana program looks like,” campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project Andrew Myers told the New York Times.
Arizona passed a similar initiative in 1996 by a 65% margin, but it was overturned by the state legislature. This time around the vote will be protected from the same fate thanks to a 1998 ballot initiative which prevents the legislature from overturning voter-approve ballot initiatives.
The new law also allows for the opening of up to 124 marijuana dispensaries, to be regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Alan Sobol, marketing manager for the non-profit Medical Marijuana Dispensaries of Arizona, told FOX News, “Our dispensaries will look nothing like what you may expect to find in California or Colorado to name a few. This dispensary is intended blend into the community, be non-offensive, and nonthreatening. Its initial purpose is to educate the general public, dispensary candidates and government officials. The dispensary is designed to eventually provide qualified patients a safe and professional, clinical based facility to purchase their medical marijuana.”
Cannabis activists across the country are heralding the win as another step towards the full legalization of marijuana, which they say is only a matter of time.
“Voters in Arizona have sided with science and compassion while dealing yet another blow to our nation’s cruel and irrational prohibition on marijuana,” Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Arizona’s law now reflects the mainstream public opinion that seriously ill people should not be treated like criminals if marijuana can provide them relief, and that doctors should be able to recommend marijuana to patients if they believe it can help alleviate their suffering.”
The latest polls from Gallup show a new high of 46% of Americans support legal marijuana.