Arizona's top federal prosecutor launched a pre-emptive strike
against the state's medical-marijuana industry Monday, warning
prospective pot growers and sellers that they could be prosecuted
under federal drug-trafficking laws.
U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, joining a growing chorus of federal law
officers across the country, said his office will abide by a 2009
Justice Department memo that discourages prosecution of
medical-marijuana users. But he said anyone who possesses or
distributes marijuana is still violating federal law. And he singled
out large operations.
[continues 900 words]
Potential medical marijuana users are just a few weeks away from being
able to legally grow their own pot in Arizona.
And it's likely that people who receive medical marijuana user cards
before October will be able to continue growing their own legal pot
for a year.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) released its final
draft rules Monday that implement the medical marijuana law voters
approved this past fall. The agency posted the rules, applications and
FAQs on its website Monday at www.azdhs.gov.
[continues 731 words]
Republicans won big on election night. But politicians lost.
At the same time that Arizona voters swept in a Republican governor
and a veto-proof number of Republican legislators, they told the
politicians that they couldn't have the money they'd asked for in
Propositions 301 and 302, and told them as well that they couldn't
keep suffering people from using marijuana.
Like all politicians, the folks now in office will praise voters for
having the wisdom to elect them and then claim that those same voters
were "fooled" into approving something like medical marijuana.
[continues 498 words]
Would-be patients hoping to get some medical marijuana now that
voters have approved the law should not hold their breath.
State Health Director Will Humble said Monday Proposition 203 gives
his agency 120 days from the time the election results are certified
- -- now set for Nov. 29 -- to come up with the rules and regulations
of how the system will operate.
Theoretically, he said, that should allow doctors to begin writing
the legally required recommendations for patients in early April. But
Humble said they may not have any place to purchase their drugs, at
least not legally.
[continues 794 words]
PHOENIX (AP) -- By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have approved
medical marijuana for people with chronic or debilitating diseases.
The decision makes Arizona the 15th state to have approved a medical
marijuana law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states
and the District of Columbia followed.
The ballot measure on the issue, Proposition 203, won by just 4,341
votes out of more than 1.67 million ballots counted, according to
final tallies announced on Saturday.
The approval came as something of a surprise. At one point on Election
Day, the measure trailed by about 7,200 votes. The gap gradually
narrowed until it edged ahead during counting on Friday. The final
tally was 841,346 in favor and 837,005 opposed.
[continues 306 words]
U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl led a group of Republican officials
Wednesday denouncing a ballot measure that would allow medical marijuana.
"Marijuana for medical treatment is the foot in the door for
legalization," Kyl said at a news conference opposing Proposition 203.
McCain, who is running for a fifth term, pointed out that the medical
community has declined to back medical marijuana.
"We obviously have great sympathy for those who struggle in pain or
discomfort from debilitating diseases and medical conditions," McCain
said, "but this proposition is not the solution."
[continues 244 words]
Medical marijuana's history in Arizona dates back 14
Voters first approved its use in 1996 by a 65-percent margin, but the
Legislature overturned it. That was part of the reason voters approved
another voter initiative in 1998 that prevents the Legislature from
overturning voter-approved initiatives and referendums.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, which led the effort to
get the Prop. 203 medical marijuana measure on the Nov. 2 statewide
ballot, says its poll found exactly the same support in Arizona for
medical marijuana these days, at 65 percent.
[continues 1587 words]
State Health Department Fears Cost, Regulatory Challenges Over Proposition 203
If voters approve the medical-marijuana ballot proposition Nov. 2,
health officials say the cash-strapped state will have to spend up to
$1 million and work under a tight deadline to implement the law.
The Arizona Department of Health Services, which opposes the
proposition but would be charged with regulating medical marijuana,
says Proposition 203 would create huge obstacles for the department.
It already is coping with budget and staff cuts and would need to
work fast to set up a monitoring system to prevent marijuana from
being handed out without department oversight.
[continues 933 words]
Arizona Medical Marijuana Act
Prop. 203 is about compassion, control and common sense.
The purpose of the proposed law is to allow seriously ill patients,
whose doctors believe they would benefit from the use of marijuana,
to acquire the medicine they need under tightly regulated conditions.
Unlike California, where it's possible to get a doctor's
recommendation to use marijuana for almost any condition, only
patients with a limited number of serious and debilitating
conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's, and multiple
sclerosis, will be able to acquire medical marijuana in Arizona.
[continues 120 words]
If medical marijuana dispensaries open in Pima County, they won't be
allowed to locate in neighborhoods.
In anticipation state voters will decriminalize marijuana for medical
use Nov. 2, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved code changes
about how medical marijuana will be grown and sold. The local
regulations go above and beyond language in the statewide ballot measure.
While Proposition 203 - the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act - regulates
who would be able to use marijuana, it does not restrict the location
of marijuana dispensaries, aside from being at least 500 feet from
[continues 498 words]
Party Considers Legalization Efforts In Swing States Amid Signs California
Measure Is Exciting Young, Liberal Voters
Democratic strategists are studying a California marijuana-legalization
initiative to see if similar ballot measures could energize young,
liberal voters in swing states for the 2012 presidential election.
Some pollsters and party officials say Democratic candidates in
California are benefiting from a surge in enthusiasm among young
voters eager to back Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in
certain quantities and permit local governments to regulate and tax
[continues 844 words]
The possibility of marijuana dispensaries being legalized has the
city of Yuma working on zoning regulations just in case.
City spokesman Greg Hyland told the Yuma Sun that the Community
Development Department is working on zoning regulations, but stressed
that the public process is long.
"It's in the works, but it's way too early for details," Hyland said.
Arizona's top health official said he warns cities and counties to
get their zoning regulations in order - and soon.
State Health Director Will Humble said if voters approve Proposition
203 next month, it falls to him to approve the license requests for
the approximately 120 marijuana dispensaries that will be allowed to
open up around the state, as well as the sites each of them is using
to cultivate the crop.
[continues 932 words]
Claims marijuana could be sold on mobile "cannabis caravans," pot
grown in expansive cooperatives and baked in brownies for nursing home
residents, are driving the debate over a proposition to decriminalize
marijuana for medical use on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Proposition 203 - the Medical Marijuana Act, identifying illnesses
that would qualify patients to use marijuana - was placed on the
ballot by citizen initiative, and follows 14 other states that already
have legalized marijuana for medical use.
Proponents say Arizona's measure has more regulation than those in
[continues 946 words]
This guest opinion was written by Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the
Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project:
Why should Arizonans not be concerned about possible increased crime
associated with medical marijuana dispensaries?
Proposition 203 would make the medical use of marijuana legal and
safely accessible to patients through state-licensed dispensaries. It
would establish a tight and sensible system of regulation for the
cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.
We have learned a great deal since initiatives in California and
Colorado passed about the kinds of regulations that are needed.
[continues 285 words]
COTTONWOOD - A crowd of mainly Democratic Party members Thursday
parsed the words of two advocates, one who supports and one who
disparages Proposition 203, the Medical Marijuana initiative.
Ivan Anderson works for the Verde Valley Fire District and for three
years has been an educator for MATForce, the non-profit organization
to discourage various types of drug abuse.
Andrew Myers is one of the five people who drafted Proposition 203,
the "medical marijuana" initiative before voters in November. MATForce
has published a number of talking points that became the structure of
the debate. Anderson told the group he would not debate the medical
merits of marijuana.
[continues 1003 words]
Editor's note: This story is the third in a series explaining the 10
propositions that will appear on the Nov. 2 general-election ballot.
PROPOSITION 203: Arizona Medical Marijuana Act
Proposition 203 would legalize marijuana for medicinal
Licensed physicians would be able to recommend medical marijuana to
patients with debilitating medical conditions, which include cancer,
glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and Alzheimer's disease. Other
conditions can be added to the approved list by the Arizona Department
of Health Services through a public-petition process.
[continues 803 words]
PHOENIX - Heather Torgerson wrote a college paper against the use of
medical marijuana. Today, however, she says what once seemed so wrong
then is the reason she's survived brain cancer.
She almost had to stop treatment after chemotherapy and radiation left
her nauseated and fatigued. When prescriptions and homeopathic
remedies didn't reverse her weight loss, she turned to marijuana.
Torgerson said her appetite returned within five minutes.
"I owe my life to it," she said.
As chair of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, Torgerson
says many Arizonans would benefit if voters approve Proposition 203, a
ballot measure that would legalize the medical use of marijuana.
[continues 579 words]
Some East Valley cities are weighing restrictions on medical marijuana
dispensaries, fearing the shops could proliferate if voters approve a
November ballot initiative that legalizes some uses of the drug.
The prescription pot shops have exploded in some California cities and
have irked even supporters of the substance. Mesa and Tempe officials
are studying whether they should have zoning regulations in the works
by election time so the shops can't simply open any place they'd like.
Mesa has begun to study the issue at the request of some members of
the City Council. They want to avoid seeing the shops dominate some
parts of town just as massage parlors and payday loan stores have in
recent years. While Mesa eventually restricted placement of new payday
loan stores, it couldn't do anything about the existing clusters.
[continues 481 words]
As debate over Arizona's medical-marijuana proposition heats up,
physicians across the state say the proposition is a double-edged sword.
Physicians agree that marijuana can provide relief for patients with
serious illnesses, but they also find ethical dilemmas in recommending
a drug that is not federally approved. Others warn against the
potential for abuse similar to prescription pills.
If voters approve Proposition 203 on Nov. 2, licensed physicians would
be able to recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating
medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C
and Alzheimer's disease.
[continues 975 words]
Says initiative based on flawed drug theories
PHOENIX - Arizona's top health official says voters should reject a
ballot measure that would allow doctors to recommend marijuana to
There probably are some people who would benefit by being able to
inhale the now-illegal substance, said Will Humble, director of the
Arizona Department of Health Services. These include those who have
nausea from chemotherapy and individuals who need an appetite
stimulant to keep from wasting away.
But Humble said health chiefs from other states with similar laws told
him the vast majority of the "medical marijuana" cards they issued
were for people with "severe and chronic pain."
[continues 433 words]
PHOENIX -- Arizona's top health official says voters should reject a
ballot measure that would allow doctors to recommend marijuana to
Will Humble said there probably are some people who would benefit by
being able to inhale the now-illegal substance. These include those
who have nausea from chemotherapy and individuals who need an
appetite stimulant to keep from wasting away.
But Humble said health chiefs from other states with similar laws
told him the vast majority of the "medical marijuana' cards they
issued were for people with "severe and chronic pain.' Humble said
that, at best, is subjective.
[continues 711 words]
Effort to Legalize Drug's Use by the Ill Earns Enough Support for Ballot Spot
The deadline to file petitions to get an initiative on the Nov. 2
statewide ballot is still a month away, but on Tuesday an effort to
legalize medical marijuana became the first to qualify for a spot.
The Secretary of State's Office on Tuesday determined that the
Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project had submitted enough valid
signatures to qualify. In April, the group turned in 252,000
signatures; they needed at least 145,698 valid signatures.
[continues 575 words]
PHOENIX - It looks like Arizonans are going to get to decide whether
they want to be able to use marijuana for medical reasons.
Backers of a plan to let doctors provide written recommendations for
marijuana turned in petitions Wednesday with what they said are about
252,000 signatures in support of the plan. That is nearly 100,000
more than need to be found valid to put the question on the November
If approved, Arizona would become the 15th state in the nation with a
medical marijuana law.
[continues 713 words]
PHOENIX -- A Phoenix political consultant has launched a campaign
designed to convince Arizonans not to allow medical marijuana in the state.
Max Fose has formed a campaign committee called "Stop The Pot."
Campaign finance reports show he is the only contributor to date,
having put up $2,500.
Fose did not return repeated phone calls asking him his interest in
the issue or whether he is fronting for some other organization.
But Web pages already erected by the committee appear designed both
to alarm Arizonans about the effects of the ballot measure and
undermine the credibility of the national Marijuana Policy Project,
which is funding the Arizona initiative.
[continues 503 words]
Proposed legislation that would tax medical marijuana - if voters
legalize it this fall - narrowly passed the state Senate on Thursday
thanks to a split among Republicans.
The bill passed with a vote of 17-12 after five Republicans, including
Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria, supported it. It now goes to the
House for consideration.
Senate Bill 1222 would make medical marijuana subject to the state
sales tax, which right now is at 5.6 percent. Most drugs and medical
supplies are exempt from this tax. It would also tack on a
$20-per-ounce luxury tax.
[continues 319 words]
Marijuana reform advocates say patients in need of herbal pain
medication are closer to relief, as efforts increase in Arizona to
turn out support for a proposition in favor of the legalization of
To date, The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project says it has
collected more than 130,000 voters' signatures -- approximately
23,000 short of the 153,000 voter signatures required to get the
proposition onto the November 2010 ballot.
"There are thousands of sick Arizonans who need medical marijuana for
pain relief," said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the project.
[continues 484 words]
On May 14, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project (AMMPP) filed
language with the Secretary of State's office with the intent to place
the issue of medical marijuana on the November 2010 ballot.
AMMPP's initiative would make the possession of a limited quantity of
marijuana and its use legal under Arizona law for certain severely ill
patients with a doctor's recommendation. "This is a common-sense law
that allows severely ill patients access to medication that they need,
while providing strict controls to make sure this medicine is only
available to qualified patients," said Andrew Myers, campaign manager
for the initiative. "Thousands of patients across Arizona are already
using medical marijuana with their doctor's recommendation. These
patients shouldn't have to risk arrest and jail just for following
their doctor's advice."
[continues 271 words]
PHOENIX -- A doctor's note will allow Arizonans to buy marijuana --
or even grow the drug in their home -- if a national group seeking
voter approval gets its way next year. The group has drafted a
measure they hope to get on the 2010 ballot that would legalize
medical marijuana here and set up a system of non-profit
"dispensaries." Supporters say marijuana use has great benefits for
people suffering from serious illnesses ranging from cancer to HIV.
But critics have long argued legalizing medical use is a step towards
full legalization of a drug they see as a "gateway" to more serious addictions.
[continues 494 words]
Voters OK'd Prior Efforts Only to See Them Blocked
An initiative planned for the 2010 ballot would ask Arizona voters to
legalize medical marijuana, setting up a California-style network of
cannabis clubs and even allow some patients to grow their own drug supply.
It's the fourth time since 1996 that state voters have been asked to
decriminalize marijuana as a medical treatment. Local supporters,
backed by the national Marijuana Policy Project, have their sights
set on the 2010 general election and plan to submit ballot language
to the Secretary of State's Office as early as next week.
[continues 987 words]