Medical Marijuana Initiative Heads For California Ballot

Proponents of a state-wide initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use report thatthey have collected over 750,000 signatures, well over the number necessary to place it on the November 1996 California ballot.

Supporters were elated by the success of the signature-gathering drive and noted that a last week blitz of over 140,000 signatures virtually guaranteed that Californians will have an opportunity to vote on the issue this year. A final validation of the estimated 750,000 signatures is expected in five to eight weeks. The number of signatures required to qualify the initiative for the 1996 ballot is 433,269.

California’s medical marijuana initiative came about in response to Governor Pete Wilson’s decision to veto legislation passed by the California Legislature in 1995 that would have allowed for the controlled compassionate use of marijuana for those diagnosed by a physician to be suffering from the diseases of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. The 1996 initiative maintains that any patient who possesses a valid doctor’s recommendation should be allowed to use marijuana as a therapeutic agent without fear or risk of prosecution. If the initiative is passed by California voters this fall, the measure will become law immediately and cannot be vetoed.

“The issue here is simple; sick people should not be arrested for using medicine that their physicians recommend to them,” said California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer.

For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California NORML at (415) 563-5858 or Dennis Peron of Californians for Compassionate Use at (415) 621-3986.