Marijuana Ballot Initiatives in Arizona, Nevada and San Francisco Show Mixed Results
Several ballot initiatives seeking to ease access to marijuana for chronically ill patients, such as those with HIV or cancer, and to loosen drug laws showed mixed results in the polls yesterday (Luo, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/6). The following summarizes the results of measures in Arizona, Nevada and San Francisco:
Proposition 203: The measure, which would have established a registry to allow state residents with a chronic illness and a recommendation from a physician to use marijuana to treat pain, was defeated 57% to 43% with 98% of precincts reporting (CNN.com, 11/6). Under the measure, the state Department of Health Services would have issued registry identification cards to residents ages 18 and older who qualified, and the state Department of Public Safety could have distributed as much as two ounces of medical marijuana to residents with the cards (Barrios, Arizona Daily Star, 10/15). The People Have Spoken, a group that supports the legalization of medical marijuana, sponsored the measure (Rushlo, Associated Press, 10/25). A coalition of county attorneys, sheriffs and pharmacists opposed the measure (Arizona Daily Star, 10/15).
Question 9: The ballot initiative, which would have allowed adult residents to legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana for private recreational purposes and would have required the state to regulate the sale and production of the drug, was defeated 61% to 39% with 100% of precincts reporting (CNN.com, 11/6). Proponents of the referendum focused their campaign on the issue of medical marijuana. If Question 9 had been approved, Nevada voters would have had to pass the referendum again in 2004 to ratify it as an amendment to the state's constitution. Nevada voters in 2000 ratified a ballot initiative that permits the possession and use of marijuana with a physician's recommendation for the treatment of certain illnesses (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/4).
Proposition S: The measure, which states that city officials must "examine the possibility" of creating a city program that would grow and distribute medical marijuana for use by patients under Proposition 215, passed 63% to 37%, Agence France-Presse reports. The measure could make San Francisco the first city in the United States to provide medical marijuana to chronically ill patients, "a move that will put it on a direct collision course with the federal government" (Agence France-Presse, 11/6). Dr. Mitch Katz, the city's public health chief, supported the measure, saying that he recommends marijuana to some of his AIDS patients because "it has benefits that other drugs can't achieve," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Opponents argued that legalizing medical marijuana is the first step in decriminalizing the drug altogether (Hoge, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/6).