Organizations like the Americans for Safe Access have launched legislative and ballot measure initiatives throughout the United States, with little success.
Twelve states initially followed California’s lead and enacted medical marijuana laws, and now the impact of those laws are now being felt by local jurisdictions who have to cope with the repercussions of easier access to this drug. The ballot measures being introduced by marijuana proponents call for local regulatory preemption and further easements of access laws. The public has taken notice of the outcry from law enforcement and addiction treatment professionals, as well as local community organizations who are publically expressing their concerns about the greater than anticipated requests and permissions granted to use medical marijuana.
Recently, a ballot measure in California failed to achieve enough signatures to be put before voters. The California ballot initiative, described as the “Marijuana. Regulation and Taxation of Medical Use Industry. Reduced Criminal Penalties. Initiative” would have established a new government agency to regulate medical marijuana, cultivation, manufacture, distribution, tests and sales. Most local regulations would have been preempted, and one dispensary per 50,000 residents would have been required, unless limited or banned by local initiative. State and local assistance to federal enforcement officials would have been barred, and criminal penalties for possession, cultivation, transport or sale would have been reduced. While the ballot effort failed, proponents are now working the State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano to pass similar legislation.
Other failed ballot initiatives include the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act that would have allowed adults to obtain and use cannabis without being subject to criminal arrest, prosecution, or sanction. This proposal also made marijuana available for scientific, medical, industrial, and research purposes. Another unsuccessful measure was the Reduce Marijuana Penalties Act 2012 that sought to limit state punishment for possession, cultivation, sale or transportation of up to 2 ounces to a $250 fine for adults.
California was the first state to establish a medical marijuana program, enacting Proposition 215 in 1996. While the so-called Compassionate Use Act was intended to give people with cancer, AIDS and other chronic illnesses the right to grow and obtain marijuana for medical purposes, there have been many cases of doctors prescribing medical marijuana for lesser maladies, and the drug which has a higher potency than most found on the street is finding its way into the illegal drug distribution system.
As the federal government, local jurisdictions, and states and that have passed marijuana legalization in various forms continue to battle, proponents of legal cannabis will have their day in court on October 16th as the Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hears their presentation on the therapeutic applications. The case is Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration.
For more information on other state ballot measures introduced to ease medical use laws, view this flyer provided by the organization Save Our Society From Drugs.