MEDICAL MARIJUANA: At Issue on Ballots Across the West
Marijuana legalization is at issue on ballots across the western United States, from proposals to allow it for medicinal use in Colorado and Nevada to measures in California and Alaska that would allow residents to grow the plant, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Using marijuana for medical purposes is not a new issue: In the past four years, medical marijuana measures have been passed into law in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Maine and Hawaii. This November, Nevada residents will vote on Question 9, which would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for "severe illness and pain." Voters approved the measure in 1999 by 59%, but another approval is required to add it to the state's constitution. Colorado's Amendment 20 would allow patients with serious or chronic illnesses to receive marijuana under a doctor's care. In California's Mendocino County, an approval of Measure G would allow adults to grow 25 marijuana plants each, as long as the plants "are not for sale or transport." In addition, the sheriff and the district attorney would "make marijuana crime their lowest priority" while county officials would "seek an end to state and federal anti-marijuana laws." Polls indicate the Nevada and Colorado proposals are "likely to pass," with 63% of Nevada voters and 71% of Colorado voters in favor of the measures. Dan Geary, part of a group supporting Question 9, explained that Nevada voters "know this is a public health issue completely unrelated to the war on drugs." Supporters of the measures have out-financed the opposition, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports: Backed by the group Americans for Medical Rights -- which is "bankrolled" by "tycoons" including New York financier George Soros, Cleveland "insurance mogul" Peter Lewis and University of Phoenix founder John Sperling -- supporters of the Colorado and Nevada proposals have reported raising at least $1.4 million since 1998, while their opponents have reported raising less than $40,000. Advocates of medical marijuana say that the plant helps those suffering from conditions such as glaucoma, nausea from chemotherapy, and AIDS-related appetite loss. Opponents, including the American Medical Association, say that marijuana can contribute to cancer and affect eye disorders and multiple sclerosis (Riley, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.