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A Guide to Drug-Related State Ballot Initiatives






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Initiative 40
Medical Use of Marijuana

Sponsor Coloradans for Medical Rights
(A Subsidiary of Americans for Medical Rights)


Voters passed this initiative in 1998, when the measure was placed on the ballot despite a subsequent decision that an insufficient number of signatures had been collected. The Colorado Supreme Court later overruled this decision and placed the initiative on the November 2000 ballot.


Approves marijuana plant material (smoked marijuana) as a safe and effective medicine for people with "debilitating medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS" and for treating "cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures characteristic of epilepsy, muscle spasms characteristic of multiple sclerosis," and other medical conditions approved by the state health agency.

Permits possession of up to 2 ounces and cultivation of up to 6 marijuana plants for medical use

Exempts patients from all civil and criminal marijuana penalties

Tasks state health agency with establishing a registry of such patients and issuing cards to them and to their primary caregivers.

Allows children access to medical marijuana with parents' permission.

Invalidates federal Food and Drug Administration regulations that govern approval of new medications, federal drug
-control laws, and international drug-control treaties. However, federal law and international treaties prevail over state law.

What Proponents Say
Proponents view this initiative as a referendum on the doctor/patient relationship. They "ask why doctors can legally prescribe for their patients drugs far more potentially addictive and toxic than marijuana
--morphine, cocaine derivatives--without anyone warning about possible addiction or those drugs’ influence on children. And backers of medical marijuana say hundreds of years of therapeutic cannabis use have left a library of unofficial research."
(Denver Post 7/16/00)

"‘This gives patients and doctors, not the government, one more treatment option for glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, and other serious illnesses,’ said Luther Symons, president of CMR (Coloradans for Medical Rights). Reorganized for the upcoming election fight, CMR plans to use grass-roots politicking as well as mass media advertising to ensure a victory, according to Symons. ‘In 1998, we were able to do some sophisticated exit polling that showed it would have passed with 60 percent of the vote,’ he said, citing recent polls showing that support has grown to 70 percent.'"
(Denver Post 7/30/00)

"‘We want to give Colorado patients an additional treatment option,’ said Luther Symons of Ridder Braden public relations agency, which is heading the campaign this time around. ‘I don’t want to see people become criminals trying to treat an illness.’"
(Denver Post 7/16/00)

What Opponents Say
Former head of the Colorado Medical Society Dr. Joel Karlin says "These are better and safer drugs that contain the same chemical (THC). . .(that) have advantages." The dosage is accurate and the patient is not required to grow marijuana or obtain it from the illegal market. He notes that the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Colorado Medical Society oppose the initiative and the National Institutes of Health say crude marijuana adds nothing to currently available medicine and may increase the risk to patients.
(Denver Post 7/16/00)

Americans for Medical Rights
$   739,563.43
$       2,631.07
$ 742,194.50

(Colorado Secretary of State's Office.  Note:  Americans for Medical Rights is funded by George Soros, Peter Lewis, and John Sperling.  Figures are preliminary.)



Qualified for November 2000 ballot


Compared to other states, Colorado ranks:
4th in past- month illicit drug use
1st in marijuana use
6th in drug use other than marijuana
7th in past- year drug dependence
5th in drug or alcohol dependence
(1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse)

Details, Use
Details, Dependence

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