Medical Marijuana Returns to Ballot
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Arizona soon could join 14 other states and legalize medical marijuana. With more than 250,000 signatures, a ballot question to authorize use of the drug for medical purposes on Tuesday (June 1) became the first to qualify for the state's November ballot, The Arizona Republic reported.
The Arizona campaign is bankrolled in large part by the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group that has helped wage successful efforts elsewhere to reduce or eliminate penalties for marijuana use. In 2008, as Stateline reported, the group backed successful ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana in Michigan and to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in Massachusetts.
According to the organization, the 14 states that currently allow medical marijuana for ill patients are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont.
Arizona's ballot measure means that marijuana will receive a lot of attention in the West this fall.
In Oregon, advocates are planning a ballot initiative that would allow state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Voters originally approved medical marijuana in 1998, but it allowed only certain patients, or their caregivers, to grow a limited number of marijuana plants themselves, according to the Salem Statesman-Journal.
In California, voters will decide whether local governments should be able to legalize and tax marijuana — a proposal that has drawn attention nationally. A Los Angeles Times /USC poll this week found that 49 percent of Californians support the measure, although 10 percent are still undecided.
In South Dakota, meanwhile, medical marijuana is also on the ballot for the second time this fall. The state is the only one that has rejected a medical marijuana proposal at the polls; voters defeated one in 2006.