Medicinal marijuana initiatives have mixed results

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 07 2002 12:00 AM ET

Three ballot initiatives seeking to ease access to marijuana for chronically ill patients, such as those with HIV, and to loosen drug laws had mixed results at the polls Tuesday.

In Arizona, Proposition 203, the measure that would have established a registry to allow state residents with a chronic illness and a recommendation from a physician to use marijuana to treat pain, was defeated 57%-43%. Under the measure, the state Department of Health Services would have issued registry identification cards to residents ages 18 and older who qualified, and the state Department of Public Safety could have distributed as much as two ounces of medicinal marijuana to residents with the cards.

In Nevada, Question 9, the ballot initiative that would have allowed adult residents to legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana for private recreational purposes and would have required the state to regulate the sale and production of the drug, was defeated 61%-39%. Proponents of the measure focused their campaign on the issue of medicinal marijuana. If Question 9 had been approved, Nevada voters would have had to pass the initiative again in 2004 to ratify it as an amendment to the state's constitution.

In San Francisco, though, Proposition S, the measure stating that city officials must "examine the possibility" of creating a city program that would grow and distribute medicinal marijuana for use by patients, passed 63%-37%. The measure could make San Francisco the first city in the United States to provide medicinal marijuana to chronically ill patients, a move that officials believe will put it on a direct collision course with the federal government. Mitchell Katz, the city's public health chief, supported the measure, saying that he recommends marijuana to some of his HIV patients because "it has benefits that other drugs can't achieve," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.