Pubdate: Fri, 6 Nov 1998
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Page: 14
Copyright: Australian, The
Author: Alex Wodak


AS part of the November 3 United States mid-term congressional elections,
voters in six western States and the District of Columbia took part in a
total of 11 ballots on drug policy. A majority of voters in a all 11
ballots supported drug reform.

In Alaska, 58 per cent of voters supported a proposal to allow the
controlled use of medical cannabis for patients with cancer, AIDS and other
serious illnesses provided this had a doctor's approval.

In Arizona, 57 per cent of voters rejected a proposal to overturn a 1996
medical-marijuana law, 52 per cent rejected an attempt by the Arizona
legislature to dismantle an earlier proposal for mandatory treatment and
education for first and second-time drug offenders while 52 per cent
supported a block on the State Government's authority to veto or amend
initiatives arising from referendums.

In Colorado, 57 per cent supported an amendment to allow a patient with a
debilitating condition to discuss with their doctor the benefits and
drawbacks of medical use of cannabis. With a doctor's prescription and
written permission from the State health agency, patients would be immune
from prosecution. Authorities attempted unsuccessfully to stop this vote
being tallied.

In Nevada, 59 per cent of voters supported a proposal to allow doctors to
recommend the medical use of cannabis to patients with cancer, AIDS and
other debilitating conditions.

In Oregon, 52 per cent supported a ballot to make smoking marijuana legal
for patients with cancer, AIDS and other debilitating conditions, provided
this had a doctor's approval while 67 per cent rejected a 1997 attempt by
the State's legislature to recriminalise marijuana, making it punishable by
a fine of up to $1000 and 30 days in jail.

In Washington (State), 59 per cent supported an initiative to decriminalise
the medical use of marijuana for patients with debilitating diseases if
this had their doctor's approval. In Washington DC, a majority supported an
initiative to legalise the possession and use of marijuana, as recommended
by a doctor, for patients with serious illnesses.

Because Congress passed a law that prohibits expenditures of any federal
money on this initiative, the results will be tallied but not registered
with the election commission.

The people of the United States have spoken. They are ready to move on from
ideological policies that don't work to evidence-based policies that are
effective. Are our politicans going to hear this clear message?

Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation
Darlinghurst, NSW

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