Several States, Cities To Vote Tuesday On Marijuana Policy

Washington, DC: Voters in three states and numerous municipalities will vote Tuesday on a variety of marijuana-law reform proposals. Below is a summary of these pending state and regional ballot initiatives.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

MONTANA: The Montana Medical Marijuana Act (I-148) allows qualified patients to possess and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes under the authorization of their physician. Patients registered with the state are afforded protection under the act, which allows individuals to possess up to six marijuana plants and one usable ounce of marijuana to treat certain qualified medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS, and Multiple Sclerosis.

OREGON: The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (Measure 33) amends the state’s existing medicinal cannabis law to allow qualified patients to legally possess up to ten marijuana plants at any one time and one pound of usable marijuana. The proposal allows state-certified nurse practitioners and naturopaths to recommend marijuana to their patients, and it expands the definition of a qualifying medical condition to include “any other medical condition for which, in the determination of the attending physician, the medical use of marijuana would be beneficial.” The proposal also mandates the state legislature to promulgate rules to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries “to ensure that medical marijuana is available to qualified patients.”

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA: The Patients Access to Medical Cannabis Act (Measure R) establishes new municipal guidelines enhancing the amount of medicinal marijuana qualified patients may legally possess without penalty. The proposal replaces Berkeley’s 10-plant medical cannabis limit with an amount in accordance with an individual “patient’s needs,” as defined by the patient and his or her physician. It also calls on the city to distribute medical marijuana if federal officials close Berkeley’s four private medicinal cannabis dispensaries.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN: The Ann Arbor Medical Marijuana Act (Proposal C) amends the Ann Arbor city charter to allow qualified patients to possess and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes under the authorization of their physician. The proposal mandates “no incarceration, probation, nor any other punitive or rehabilitative measure” for qualified patients, and establishes an “affirmative defense to a prosecution” for patients who use cannabis medicinally.

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI: The Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative (Proposition 1) amends the Columbia city criminal code so that “adults who obtain and use marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia for medical purposes pursuant to the recommendation of a physician shall not be subject to any arrest, prosecution, punishment, or sanction.” It also mandates that all cases pertaining to the medicinal use of marijuana “shall only be referred to the Municipal Prosecuting Attorney, and no other prosecuting attorney, and the Municipal Prosecuting Attorney shall not refer the matter to any other prosecutor.”

PERSONAL USE AND REGULATION

ALASKA: The Alaska Cannabis Decriminalization & Regulation Act (Measure 2) would mandate that “persons 21 years or older shall not be prosecuted, be denied any right or privilege, nor be subject to criminal or civil penalties for the possession, cultivation, distribution, or consumption” of marijuana for medicinal, industrial, or recreational purposes. It also encourages the state legislature to establish a system to regulate marijuana “in a manner similar to alcohol or tobacco.”

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: The Oakland Cannabis Regulation and Revenue Ordinance (Measure Z) would establish new municipal guidelines directing “the Oakland Police Department to make investigation, citation, and arrest for private adult cannabis offenses the lowest law enforcement priority, effective immediately upon passage of this ordinance.” The proposal also mandates the city of Oakland “to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis for adult use, so as to keep it off the streets and away from children and to raise revenue for the city, as soon as possible under state law.”

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI: The Missouri Smart Sentencing Initiative (Proposition 2) amends the Columbia city criminal code to reduce misdemeanor penalties on the possession of marijuana and/or paraphernalia to a fine-only offense. It also mandates that all cases pertaining to the misdemeanor possession of marijuana “shall only be referred to the Municipal Prosecuting Attorney, and no other prosecuting attorney, and the Municipal Prosecuting Attorney shall not refer the matter to any other prosecutor.”

For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. A detailed summary of pending state and local ballot initiatives is available online at:
http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6172