By Mike Meno
After a final tally of late provisional ballots, the Associated Press is reporting that 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 a recommendation from their doctor. The measure passed by just 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million cast.
Arizona now joins the list of 14 other states, along with the District of Columbia, that have passed medical marijuana 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, which provided significant funding and support to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, the local group that ran the Proposition 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.”
Seventy 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.”
Proposition 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 medicine.