Washington, DC: Voters will decide on a number of marijuana-law reform initiatives at this year’s November 5th mid-term elections. These include a Nevada proposal to regulate marijuana use by those over 21 years of age, an Arizona initiative mandating the state provide free medical cannabis to qualified patients, and a South Dakota plan to legalize hemp cultivation by state farmers. Below is a summary of this year’s pot liberalization proposals.
Proposition 203 (Marijuana Decriminalization/Medical Marijuana)
If approved, the “The Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act of 2002” would reduce existing pot penalties on the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and/or two cultivated plants from a felony offense to a non-criminal, civil violation punishable by a $250 fine. The measure would also amend Arizona’s existing medicinal marijuana law to allow state-registered patients or their caregivers to legally possess up to two ounces of medical pot, and requires state officials to implement a medicinal cannabis distribution system to qualified patients.
Fifty-three percent of likely voters say they support the initiative, according to the latest poll, conducted in late September by the Social Research Laboratory at Northern Arizona. State voters previously approved drug-law reform initiatives in 1996 and 1998.
Full text of the initiative is available online at:
Question 9 (Marijuana Regulation/Medical Marijuana)
If approved, Question 9 would eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the use or possession of three ounces or less of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older, and mandate the state to implement a system whereby adults could obtain marijuana through a legally regulated market. The measure would also authorize state officials to provide seriously ill patients qualified to use medical marijuana under state law access to cannabis at low cost.
Nevada voters are evenly split on the proposal, according to the latest statewide poll released last week by initiative sponsors Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement (NRLE), with 46 percent of respondents supporting it and 46 percent opposing it. State voters previously approved an initiative legalizing the possession and use of medical marijuana in 1998 and 2000. The Nevada legislature reduced marijuana possession penalties from a felony to a fine-only offense in 2001.
Because Question 9 seeks to amend the Nevada constitution, voters must approve the initiative this November and again in 2004 become it can become law.
Full text of the initiative is available online at: http://www.nrle.org/initiative.html.
Initiated Measure 1 (Industrial Hemp)
If approved, the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Act would allow farmers to possess and cultivate marijuana consisting of no more than one percent THC for fiber, food and other commercial purposes.
No recent polling information on Measure 1 is available. In recent years, three states – North Dakota, Montana and West Virginia – have enacted similar laws.
Full text of the initiative is available at: http://www.SoDakHEMP.org/petition.htm.
San Francisco, CA
Proposition S (Medical Marijuana)
If approved, Proposition S would encourage the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to enact legislation authorizing the cultivation and distribution of medicinal pot by city officials.
Informal polling shows that San Francisco voters strongly support the initiative. Eighty percent of San Francisco voters previously approved Proposition P in 1991 making the possession, cultivation and distribution of medical pot the lowest priority for police. Seventy-eight percent of voters backed Proposition 215, the “Medical Use of Marijuana Act” in 1996 – a larger percentage than any other California county.
Full text of the initiative is available online at: http://www.smartvoter.org/2002/11/05/ca/sf/meas/S/.
ALSO OF INTEREST
Local, non-binding ballot questions regarding the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use, and the legalization of medical cannabis and industrial hemp will appear on the ballot in 47 towns and cities, including 20 of the state’s 170 House districts. A summary of these initiatives is available from the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet) at: http://www.drcnet.org/wol/259.html#localissues.
The Marijuana Reform Party (MRP) has candidates for governor and lieutenant governor on this year’s electoral ballot. While neither candidate expects to win in this year’s election, MRP spokesman and gubernatorial candidate Tom Leighton is hopeful that the MRP will receive the 50,000 votes necessary to obtain official political party status. New York law does not allow for statewide initiatives.
The MRP advocates rescheduling marijuana for medical purposes and eliminating criminal and civil penalties on the personal use of pot, among other drug law reforms. A summary of the MRP’s political platform is available at: http://www.marijuanareform.org.
Proponents of a citywide initiative (Initiative 75) to make the arrest and prosecution of minor marijuana offenders the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority” was certified for the 2003 ballot on October 4th. Because county election officials did not certify the initiative until such a late date, I-75 will not appear on this year’s ballot.
Full text of the initiative is available online at: http://www.sensibleseattle.org.
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Additional information on this year’s initiatives is available at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5426.