Provisions allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill patients and mandating that individuals convicted of the personal possession or use of a controlled substance not be sentenced to jail may again become law in Arizona.
The controversial proposals, approved by voters last November by a nearly 2-1 margin, were repealed by the Legislature this spring. Backers of the initiative, operating under the moniker The People Have Spoken, filed referendums in May opposing the Legislature’s changes. Yesterday, they turned in approximately 200,000 signatures of registered voters to the Secretary of State’s office, nearly twice the number required to put the Legislature’s action on hold, pending a citizen vote in November 1998.
If the signatures are verified, a process that will take almost one month, the original provisions will be allowed to take effect.
“The people are livid about what the Legislature did,” Dr. Jeffrey Singer, co-chairman of The People Have Spoken, told The Arizona Republic. “Voters made a decision on the issue and [lawmakers] are trying to thwart the will of the people.”
“Let the Legislature try to claim that Arizona voters were somehow ‘duped’ again,” said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, referring to allegations made by some state officials this spring. “The overwhelming turnout on this signature drive to reinstate the guidelines of Proposition 200 clearly demonstrates that Arizonans want access to medical marijuana for the seriously ill and do not believe in arresting and jailing non-violent drug offenders.”
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. For additional information, please contact Sam Vagenas of The People Have Spoken at (602) 222-6639.