Although many were disappointed by the failure of Proposition 19 (legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes) in California, the midterm elections weren’t without their small victories for those that endorse marijuana for use as medicine.
Nearly two weeks after votes were cast, a measure to legalize medical marijuana passed in Arizona by a very narrow margin. This makes Arizona the 15th state to allow the use of medical marijuana.
Proposition 203 cleared by just 4,341 votes out of some 1.67 million that were counted. Supporters collected more than 252,000 signatures just to put the measure on the ballot — nearly 100,000 more than required.
“Now begins the very hard work of implementing this program in the way it was envisioned, with very high standards,” Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project told the Associated Press. “We really believe that we have an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the country on what a good medical marijuana program looks like.”
In 1996 and 1998, Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana law but it never went into effect because of problems with its wording.
Major opposition to the campaign claimed that approving medical marijuana is merely a stepping-stone to increased crime near dispensaries, more people driving while impaired, and eventually, recreational legalization.
The argument that medical marijuana dispensaries attract crime is weak at best, however.
According to Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, “banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries.” Beck pointed out that in 2009, the LAPD received reports of 71 robberies at the more than 350 banks in the city, compared to only 47 robberies at medical marijuana facilities which number at least 800. Similar results were found in Denver, Colorado as well.
Click here for a map that shows how medical marijuana laws have spread across the country over the years.
Image Credit: Flickr - ElPablo!