Drug War

Will the Third Time Be the Charm for Medical Marijuana in Arizona?


Whether or not Californians legalize recreational use of marijuana the week after next, Arizonans seem poised to make theirs the 15th state to legalize medical use. The Drug War Chronicle reports that Proposition 203, which would allow patients to with specified medical conditions to use cannabis for symptom relief, was supported by 54 percent of registered voters in a Rocky Mountain Poll taken last week. The initiative would allow patients with doctor's recommendations to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, which they would obtain from state-licensed, nonprofit dispensaries. The measure lists a dozen qualifying conditions—cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, Chrohn's disease, Alzheimer's, wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, and severe muscle spasms—and authorizes the state health department to add more. Patients who live more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary could grow their own marijuana or designate a caregiver to grow it for them.

Assuming Prop. 203 passes, it will be the third time Arizona voters have approved medical marijuana. The first initiative, passed in 1996 (the same year Californians approved medical marijuana), was overridden by the state legislature. Two years later Arizonans voted to override the state legislature, but the initiative erroneously authorized doctors to "prescribe" marijuana rather than "recommend" it—a practice that would have left them vulnerable to sanctions (including loss of prescribing privileges) under the Controlled Substances Act.

South Dakotans, who nearly approved medical marijuana in 2006, also will vote on the issue in November.

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  1. Threadjack

    My favorite whipping boy:

    Are Facebook Ads Outing Gay Users.

    We all know where this ends up.

  2. (cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, Chrohn’s disease, Alzheimers, wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe muscle spasms)

    I guess the “chronic pain” and “severe nausea” will be the ‘out’ when we see a large number of relatively young, healthy people sporting medical marijuana prescriptions.

    1. You are certainly right, but please do not scoff at the idea of pain. It had myriad causes and many of them are invisible to casual examination, but without adequate treatment pain can crush a persons soul and bring their life to a crashing halt.

      1. I don’t scoff at the idea of pain. I scoff at the idea that when marijuana gets medicalized, that there is a sudden rush of young, healthy people who have chronic conditions that only marijuana can ‘fix’.

        And to be clear, I have no problem with young people wanting to smoke marijuana, and probably have no real problem with them faking a condition to get said marijuana prescription from a doctor that doesn’t look too deeply into his patients’ complaints, and thus writes a lot of hastily prescribed marijuana. But I also believe that this medicalized scenario creates a magnet for regulators to start throwing doctors in jail… you know, like they already do in cases of existing, legal, schedule II medications.

  3. This law won’t stop Joe Arpaio from harassing people who legally use medical marijuana.

  4. I confidently predict that, if this law passes, ten years from now the people growing and using marijuana under its aegis will vociferously oppose full legalization.

    Because people suck, that’s why.

    1. The way I like it is, is the way it is/
      I got mine, (dig it!), he got his

      1. Get up…

        Ironically, I was just listening to this in the car. Spooky…

    2. The boutique suppliers will fight Costco and the big retailers being able to stock it.

      1. The boutique suppliers “Progressives” will fight Costco and the big retailers being able to stock it.

        FTFY 😉

    3. You present a believable possibility, R C Dean.

      1. In San Francisco, you’ll only be allowed to buy ‘locally grown’ dope, and Alice Waters will have to give each bud a name before it’s sold!

    4. After reading through the legalization threads at http://www.rollitup.org/legalization-marijuana/, I have two observations about the current CA medical marijuana “patients”, at least the ones posting on that site: They are selfish pricks, and they are mostly illiterate fools.

      1. Seriously. Most of the more vociferous pot-heads on these internet websites regularly commit brutal offenses against English syntax, grammar, spelling, and diction.

        It gives the rest of us a bad name.

  5. Will the Third Time Be the Charm for Medical Marijuana in Arizona?


  6. There is no material difference in law between a prescription and a recommendation. I’m certain that was not the problem with the 1998 initiative; ISTR there were other difficulties.

  7. Now I remember. The problem is evident in Jacob’s report, above. The 1998 initiative purported to authorize doctors to do something they were already legally entitled to do, namely “prescribe” (i.e. recommend) mj. The drafters erroneously thought that the legal ability to prescribe (which was superfluous, doctors have the same freedom of speech we all do) conferred the legal ability to get that prescription filled. What was needed was the word dispense, not “prescribe” or “recommend”.

  8. Come to me, marijuana. You’re even closer.

  9. But seriously, folks. What are the chances of this initiative passing in the same state that continuously elects Joe Arpaio?

    1. Maricopa County is but one county in AZ. Other counties’ sheriffs have specifically repudiated Arpaio (meaning that the people who elected them probably feel similarly).

      1. But would you describe Maricopa county as conservative? Do we believe that the more rural counties are going to swing hard toward medical marijuana?

        I’d be curious to see a voting chart of Maricopa county. Ie, do they contradict themselves? Do they vote medical marijuana while simultaneously pulling a lever for Arpaio?

        1. It’s the desert, dude; it’s not “rural”. Huge swaths of unoccupied desert in all those counties.

          As I understand it, Pima County (Tucson, where my sister lives) is much more “liberal” than Maricopa, for instance. Disclaimer: I am far from an expert on AZ and any natives are welcome to correct me.

          1. Grew up there. Don’t live there now. Follow the politics. Arpaio is a hero because of his stances on illegal immigration. All other issues pale by comparison. Yes, I think they could pull both levers, but we’ll see.

          2. I grew up in the southwest, spent a lot of time in Phoenix. It’s like the L.A. of Arizona. Trust me, there’s a huge difference between Phoenix and places like Prescott, Winslow or Kingman. I’m guessin’ folks in Prescott don’t take kindly to people on that dope.

            I still have a hard time believing that that the pro-marijuana vote gets a strong showing in those places, and a weak showing in Maricopa where Arpaio has a popular following.

            What I don’t know is how far out Maricopa county extends beyond Phoenix and its suburbs like Cave Creek. Counties are big in the southwest.

            *just googled it*

            Well, looks like Maricopa extends way out past Phoenix and does include huge swathes of rural area (aka unoccupied desert). Unfortunately, unoccupied desert doesn’t show well at the polls, which means Phoenix is the voting bloc for Maricopa county.

            so you’d probably need all of Tucson and everything else in the state to counter an anti-marijuana vote in Maricopa. However, I don’t buy that Maricopa is anti-marijuana. I still believe that they’re both pro-marijuana and pro-arpaio… all at the same frustrating time.

          3. Here’s another uncomfortable fact. Whether other sheriffs are “repudiating” Joe Arpaio or not, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans as to how the rest of Arizonan’s feel about medical marijuana. Arizona sheriffs to the last one has come out against the initiative.

            I’m not suggesting that the collective leanings of the Sheriffs of Arizona have any real impact on the general public- we all know how law enforcement lean on this types of things. Just an interesting observation.

            1. We managed to do it by referenda twice, the second directly in the face of the first legislative hijacking – pardon, override. However, there has also been a lot of influx from other parts of the country (and elsewhere) since then (who knew Gilbert was going to be a boomtown), so I have no idea what the true demographic breakout on this issue may show now.

              I think I agree about anti-illegal immigration as being the true color of the horse Arpaio rode in on – in an interesting way, this may work to the initiatives’ benefit if is seen as screwing the Mexican narcos in any way.

              1. Was it anti immigration? I mean, really? Anti immigration is something relatively recent as a hotbutton political topic. Arpaio has been there since the 90s… am I correct? I don’t remember anti-immigration sentiments pushing him into power. As I recall it, it was more of a pervasive tough-on-crime mindset.

              2. The only piece of legislation that Obama sponsored in his brief time as senator was practically a goddamn payout to the Mexican narcos. The violence from the cartels and the area of their control has expanded enormously since the “Fuck Americans Who Have Sinus Congestion” Act. No one in this goddamn state has the slightest awareness of the reason why the narcos are suddenly more influential, and the housing crash along with Sheriff Joe’s racist policies have sent any Mexican looking for honest work back to Mexico. SB1070 is a direct idiotic reaction to the idiotic policies that have been implemented in the last few years.

          4. Northern AZ can also also be very liberal. It is a hot spot for New Age douchebags and college know-it-all hippies.

            Maricopa is fucking huge, not just in size but in population. It has a population of over 4 million. More than half of AZ’s population reside in Maricopa county, the vast majority of which live in the Phoenix area (Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, etc).

            Arpaio keeps getting reelected (by people who mostly live in a metropolitan area) because he is famous and is “tough on crime”. Most people here react well to his silly self-aggrandizing antics. He is a media whore who has made himself a household name. People like to vote for famous people.

            1. That’s how I remember him coming onto the national scene. So it seems like my original uncomfortable, I-wish-it-weren’t-true theory is more correct: People will vote for legalized pot, and pull the lever for Arpaio at the exact same time, and never grok the irony.

              1. When you are “educated” in a school system that teaches you to repeat and regurgitate, to perform repetitive tedious tasks, teach kids to work a system in order to get higher grades and not to expand your knowledge and grow, it should surprise no one that most individuals are incapable of critical thinking. The thought process is no deeper than “I like pot” and “I like famous people” or for older generations “pot makes crazy kids want to rob me” and “I like famous people”.

    2. We passed it here before.

    3. I did not vote for Arpaio. I get a Dupnik on my ballot

  10. It has become apparent that marijuana has medical value, now all that is needed is the volumes of hard science behind this seemingly self-evident truth. We need to inform our representatives about the federal obstruction of privately funded marijuana through the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This organization provides researchers with their sole source of marijuana only after redundant red tape and they use tactics of delay to discourage researchers from investing in this field. But we can give our legislaters the spine they need to stand up for what is right. In 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner released a recommendation saying that it would be in the public interest for Dr. Lyle Craker of UMASS Amherst to gain a DEA license to cultivate marijuana for FDA studies. Tell your Senator to question Michelle Leonhart, acting administrator of the DEA, as to why she rejected the law judge’s recommendation and instead choose to uphold the obstructive federal monopoly during her still to be scheduled Senate Confirmation hearing. We can turn the tide.

    Stephen Morseman

    1. acting administrator of the DEA, as to why she rejected the law judge’s recommendation and instead choose to uphold the obstructive federal monopoly during her still to be scheduled Senate Confirmation hearing.

      For the DEA, this is about jobs, jobs, jobs.

  11. Off-topic, but Family Ordered to Destroy 50,000 Pounds of Cheese

    Because it’s dangerous and raw even though there has not been one health complaint in their entire thirty years of operation!

  12. Could be wrong, but I’ve heard from people in Arizona that Mesa, AZ has the largest Mormon population outside of Salt Lake City. To get an idea of what that means, combine the Mormon population with the 40% socially conservative “maintain the status quo at all costs” people that are found throughout the US. Add to that the number of snowbirds (the undying “Greatest” generation and Baby Boomers) that happen to be here the moment the temperature drops below 100F, approximately 1 month before election time, and AZ has no chance of passing any law allowing access to the demon weed.

    Our local despot, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, will go to all costs to appease the bootlickers by setting up checkpoints, instituting no-knock raids, harassing Mexican-looking-folks, and anything else he can find in his copy of Tyranny for Dummies. All while his supporters wave the stars-and-stripes, talk about freedom, and attend Tea Party protests.

    So, no, AZ is fucked.

  13. Totally unscientific, but:

    My folks and their friends in northern Texas are pretty damn socially conservative, and I have heard them say that they thinks marijuana prohibition is pretty silly.

    Would they vote to legalize it? Probably not. But I wouldn’t equate the Southwestern/Mountain state version of conservatism with blue-nose prohibitionists. There’s a good dose of leave-me-alone in there.

    1. People in rural areas tend to have a “live and let live” attitude in general. It’s the busybodies in suburbia that are the problem.

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