The Marijuana Policies Project out of Washington, D.C. has created an initiative to legalize the use of medical marijuana to the citizens of Arizona. The petition has already accumulated over 230,000 signatures.
“The petition needed 153,365 signatures in order for it to be voted on,” said Arizona campaign manager Andrew Myers.
Although the due date for the petition is not until July 1, 2010, the campaign plans to turn the signatures into legislature in a few weeks. Myers expected there to be over 260,000 signatures by that time.
One thing Myers wanted to be clear about is that this is not a decriminalization proposal.
“My group wants to accomplish the legalization of medical marijuana for extremely ill patients only and has proposed a dispensary program that will help to control the marijuana regulation,” Myers said.
According to Myers, only 120 total dispensaries will be allowed to open throughout the state of Arizona and they will each operate as a non-profit organization.
There is no statewide regulation in place and that this difference in Arizona’s campaign will help to keep costs of prescriptions down, verses in California, where prices are relative to the street value of the drug.
“By making marijuana prescriptions available to those terminal patients it will prevent them from looking to obtain it illegally or cultivating their own,” Myers said.
Michael Layne and Jenna Warren, students at the Chandler-Gilbert campus, have a family member that suffers from fibromyalgia. The illness is characterized by long lasting and full body pain as well as very weak joints. The couple’s relative is currently being treated with the drug oxycontin.
This particular drug and similar opioids are very addictive and have physical and psychological side effects that can range from sweating to extreme nausea.
“Our relative complains about the sick feeling experienced from the use of oxycontin and she has trouble moving and eating,” said Warren.
Myers’ organization has worked with several experimental studies and said results show that marijuana can reduce the use of opioids by two-thirds or more, while some fibromyalgia patients have completely stopped using opioids.
The young couple said how they witnessed one episode in which the relative self-medicated with the use of marijuana and said their relative was relieved of many excruciating symptoms.
“This would be a much better way to treat our relative’s illness and we wouldn’t have to worry about the possible criminal charges she faces if caught using marijuana,” Layne said.
Myers is confident that the proposal will pass because it had once before. This occurred in 1996, but there was no change in the law because of a drafting mistake. He also said that polls have shown that about 65 percent of registered voters are in favor of the initiative. In November Arizona citizens can vote on the bill.
“(If passed) at least the sick and dying will be off the battlefield,” Myers said.