After a tally of late provisional ballots, Arizona voters have approved Proposition 203, a state ballot measure that will allow patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening illnesses to use medical marijuana with authorization from their doctor. Arizona now joins the list of 14 other states, along with the District of Columbia, that have passed medicinal cannabis laws since 1996.
“Voters in Arizona have sided with science and compassion while dealing yet another blow to our nation’s cruel and irrational prohibition on marijuana,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project
. MPP provided funding and support to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Project, a local group that ran the Prop 203 campaign.
“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,” Kampia said.
It’s unfortunate that people who live within 25 miles of a dispensary won’t be allowed to cultivate their own — Toke of the Town believes all patients should have that option.
But designated caregivers are allowed — they may care for up to five qualifying patients, and are allowed to receive reimbursements for “actual costs,” but not be “paid” for their services.
Dispensaries will be limited to selling only 2.5 ounces to each patient every two weeks, so as to curtail diversion for illegal purposes. Patients will only be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces at any given time.
But there are other very good things about the Arizona law; those who crafted the law incorporated lessons learned in other medical marijuana states.
For instance, while employers are still allowed to maintain “drug free workplaces” and prohibit use of marijuana or impairment from marijuana on the job, simply testing positive for cannabis
on a urinalysis or other drug test will no longer, by itself
, be enough to discipline or fire a medical marijuana patient in the workplace.
Additionally, medicinal use of cannabis won’t be cause for someone to be denied an organ transplant, to deny a good parent their child custody rights, or to evict a patient or deny them an education.
Nationally, 70 percent of Americans favor making marijuana legally available for doctors to recommend in order to reduce pain and suffering, according to a recent Gallup poll.
“Sadly, patients in 35 states still have no legal protection if marijuana is the medicine that works best for them,” Kampia said. “We will continue working in the years ahead to ensure that others are awarded the respect and compassionate care that seriously ill patients in Arizona will now enjoy, thanks to this law.”
Prop 203 allows for the establishment of about 120 tightly run, state-regulated clinics that will dispense marijuana to qualified patients in Arizona. Patients who live more than 25 miles from a clinic will be allowed to grow their own cannabis.
Other states allowing medical marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington state. The District of Columbia has also legalized medicinal cannabis.