Arizona Gov. Fife Symington has signed Proposition 200 into law. The voter-approved measure, formally known as the "Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act," drastically reforms state drug policy by shifting the emphasis from law enforcement to treatment and education. Symington had threatened to veto the measure last month despite it having passed with 65 percent of the vote.
Although more attention has been paid to California's recenfly approved medical marijuana law, Arizona's measure is a far more radical departure from current anti-drag strategies. Specifically, Proposition 200 states the following:
"Taken as a whole, the message sent by 65 percent of the Arizona voters who supported Proposition 200 is staggering," announced NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Never in recent memory have such a large number of American voters so resolutely rejected our nation's federal policy of 'Do Drugs, Do Time.'"
"This could be a crack in the Berlin Wall," rejoiced Phoenix surgeon Jeffrey Singer, who campaigned for the law. "Five years from now, people will see Arizona is not suffering from mass addictions and, perhaps, even having rational discussions about decriminalization of all drugs -- that's what the drug warriors fear most."
"As with the fall of Communism, the drug wars will be over in a few years and America will be safer for it," agreed Arizona NORML Chairman Peter Wilson. Wilson and other AZ4NORML members are hoping to work with the offices of Gov. Symington and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to establish "tolerance zones" where patients with marijuana prescriptions may have them filled by state licensed marijuana dealers.
"Arizona can take pride in being the first state in the nation to realize the 'War on Drugs' is a dismal failure and has gone on long enough," summarized Arizona NORML Secretary William Green, who is licensed by the state to sell and possess marijuana. "Arizona is set to lead the nation out of the nightmarish 'War on Drugs.'"
For more information or copies of Proposition 200, please contact Allen St Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Additional information is available from Peter Wilson of AZ4NORML at (602) 395-0353 or from Sam Vagenas of Arizonans for Drug Policy Reform at (602) 285-0468. AZ4NORML may be contacted on the Internet at http://www.amug.org/~az4norml.