Montana, Oregon State Ballots To Include Measures Concerning Use, Possession of Marijuana for Medical Purposes
Three state ballots on Nov. 2 will include measures concerning the use of marijuana, including two measures in Montana and Oregon legalizing the use or possession of the drug for medical purposes by patients, such as those living with HIV/AIDS or cancer, USA Today reports. In Montana, a ballot initiative that would approve the use of marijuana by patients with a prescription has received "strong support" in several polls, according to USA Today. The measure in Oregon would change the state's medical marijuana law that was passed in 1998 to allow patients to possess up to one pound of the drug and 10 plants at one time. The initiative also would require not-for-profit groups to obtain licenses from the state in order to distribute marijuana. The measure is opposed by the Oregon Medical Association, district attorneys in the state and the Bush administration. In Alaska, a measure appearing on the Nov. 2 ballot would legalize marijuana possession for people ages 21 and older (Leinwand, USA Today, 10/28). Currently, California, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have laws permitting the use of medical marijuana. Thirty-five states have enacted legislation recognizing the drug's medicinal value. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' December 2003 ruling that a federal ban on marijuana is unconstitutional when applied to seriously ill people -- including people living with HIV/AIDS -- who use marijuana for medical reasons in states where the drug's use is allowed when recommended by a physician. The Court is expected to make a decision in the case by the end of June 2005 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.