Arizona Voters Say “Yes” to Medical Marijuana

Last modified: August 6, 2013 03:06:02 AM

Cannabis sativa. Marijuana leaf

Arizona has become the most recent state to approve a measure that will allow people with certain conditions to get a prescription for medical marijuana. Fourteen other states, along with the District of Columbia, have such laws already on the books. The unofficial results of the Nov. 2 vote were posted on the website of the Arizona Secretary of State. Following the vote on Proposition 203, Arizona officials said the vote was too close to call. The state said “yes” votes represented 50.1 percent of the vote, while 49.8 percent said “no.” More than 1.6 million votes were cast and the measure passed by a narrow margin of about 4,341 votes.

The Arizona Department of Health Services will soon begin looking at who will be able to dispense medical marijuana and patient applications. Under the Arizona measure, medical doctors could recommend that certain patients be permitted to obtain the drug from designated and regulated outlets. Patients for whom marijuana may be recommended could suffer from conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma and Hepatitis C.

In addition to the District of Columbia, these states have approved similar propositions: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. States have individual rules about the fees and allowable possession limits that will be imposed. Conditions for which medical marijuana may be prescribed also can vary by state.

Since 1972, marijuana has been regulated by the government. It’s considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance because it was said at the time it had no accepted medical purpose. Now that that’s changing, there are people on both sides, arguing why the drug should and shouldn’t be legal, even for medical use. Marijuana has long been blamed for providing a “gateway” to more serious drug use. Opponents of decriminalization for medical use say marijuana can also be addictive and that there are plenty of legal drugs available to help people with these conditions. Proponents of the measure argue that medical marijuana can be a safe, effective treatment for people who are suffering. They maintain that marijuana’s effects can help pain and other symptoms associated with certain conditions.