Pubdate: Sun, 25 Apr 2010
Source: Eastern Arizona Courier (AZ)
Copyright: 2010 Eastern Arizona Courier
Author: Jon Johnson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Medical marijuana initiatives have been passed by  Arizonans twice 
before only to see the vote of the  people not be enacted due to 

Supporters of the use of marijuana as medicine are  hoping three 
times is the charm as a new initiative  will likely be on the November ballot.

About 25 medical marijuana activists marched throughout  Downtown 
Safford on Tuesday to call attention to their  desire to see cannabis 
legalized for medicinal use and  be federally rescheduled.

Currently, the federal government lists marijuana as a  Schedule 1 
drug along with other drugs such as heroin,  Ectasy, LSD and PCP. 
Schedule 1 drugs are deemed to  have no currently accepted medicinal 
use. Schedule 2  drugs, including cocaine, morphine, crystal 
methamphetamine, fentanyl and hydrocodone, are  classified as having 
both a risk of abuse and accepted  medicinal uses.

Activist and medical marijuana user Jerry Benson told  the Courier he 
wouldn't be alive today if he didn't  smoke pot.

He said he was prescribed a litany of drugs, such as  Oxycontin, that 
damaged his liver and created  additional health issues. He said he 
was given 90 days  to live, so he threw out his prescription pills 
and started using cannabis instead. Years later, Benson is  healthy 
enough to ride his bicycle around the city.

Additionally, Benson said if doctors could prescribe  marijuana, 
there would be less Oxycontin and other  hydrocodone pill abuse by 
people in the area. He said  it would especially affect the local 
problem of youths  who crush the pills and inject them, 
essentially  turning the prescribed pills into the Schedule 1 drug  heroin.

Activist and medical marijuana user Charles Gilbert had  his left 
kidney and part of his right kidney removed  due to cancer. He said 
pot was more effective in  helping him deal with his pain than the 
Percocet and  Oxycontin pills prescribed to him.

Arizona voters passed medical marijuana initiatives in  1996 and 
1998. The 1996 initiative included more than  100 other drugs in 
addition to pot and wasn't enacted  because the state Legislature 
passed a statute that  overrode it. The 1998 initiative was unable to 
be  enacted because of conflicting federal laws 
regarding  physicians. The act allowed physicians to 
prescribe  cannabis, but federal law prohibits physicians 
from  prescribing Schedule 1 drugs.

Since California passed its medical marijuana  initiative in 1996 
that allows possession of cannabis  for patients with a doctor's 
recommendation, 13 other  states have followed suit. States allowing 
the  medicinal use of pot are: California, Alaska, Oregon, 
Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont,  Montana, Rhode 
Island, New Mexico, Michigan and New  Jersey.

Recently, the Washington, D.C., City Council  unanimously voted to 
allow patients with HIV, glaucoma,  cancer or a "chronic and lasting 
disease" to receive a  physician's recommendation and possess up to 
two ounces  of marijuana.

Arizona's November 2010 initiative would permit  patients with a 
physician's recommendation and  caregivers to purchase up to 
two-and-a-half ounces of  usable cannabis from regulated clinics.

The regulated clinics, also known as dispensaries,  would operate as 
nonprofit organizations. The act would  also allow patients or 
caregivers to cultivate their  own cannabis for medicinal purposes if 
a regulated  clinic is not located within 25 miles of the patient.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom