Medical Marijuana Supporters Challenge Arizona Measure Restricting Physicians’ Ability To Prescribe Marijuana

Medical marijuana proponents in Arizona are challenging a move by the state legislature to indefinitely delay the implementation of a voter-approved medical marijuana law.

A group called The People Have Spoken (TPHS) have taken out a referendum petition from the Secretary of State’s office to reverse a law signed by Gov. Fife Symington on April 21 mandating that physicians may only prescribe marijuana after the drug has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (H.R. 2518). Voters in November overwhelmingly endorsed permitting doctors to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill patients if two licensed physicians agree on the use and offer supporting research.

Sam Vagenas, spokesman for TPHS, called the legislature’s support of H.R. 2518, “The ultimate act of political arrogance. … It is a callous disregard of the will of the voters.”

NORML’s Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said, “The actions of the Arizona state legislature and Gov. Symington have left activists no choice but to use the referendum process to bring this compassionate reform to the state.”

The referendum will block the legislature’s recent changes if 56,481 registered voters sign petitions by July 20, placing it on the November 1998 general election ballot. Because H.R. 2518 failed to receive support from at least two-thirds of the state legislature, it may be taken directly to the electorate as a referendum.

Vagenas explained that TPHS is also preparing an additional referendum that will bar legislators from changing initiatives for two years after they are passed by the voters.

“The politicians have said repeatedly that the people of Arizona are stupid,” Vagenas told The Arizona Republic. “We’re going to prove that the people are not so dumb after all.”

For more information, please contact Sam Vagenas of The People Have Spoken at (602) 222-6639.