The Arizona Secretary of
State's office announced Monday that an initiative that would decriminalize
the possession of marijuana had submitted sufficient signatures to make
the November ballot. Supporters of Proposition 203, also known as
the "Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act of 2002," submitted
164,264 signatures, or more than 160% of the minimum needed, the Secretary
of State's office announced.
The listed sponsor of the
initiative is The People Have Spoken, a Phoenix group headed by former
Goldwater Institute head John Norton. The same group spearheaded
1996's Proposition 200, a drug treatment and medical marijuana initiative,
as well as another round of initiatives in 1998 designed to overturn the
Arizona legislature's attempts to undo Prop 200. The People Have
Spoken attempted an initiative similar to this one in 2000, but abandoned
it after concerns arose about its language possibly allowing marijuana
The group is funded in part
by John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix and, along with
financier George Soros and insurance magnate Peter Lewis, one of the so-called
"troika" of heavy-spending drug reform philanthropists whose spending largely
directs where well-funded drug reform efforts take place.
Proposition 203 ran a stealthy
signature-gathering campaign, shying away from media coverage as paid petitioners
did their work, although rambunctious Maricopa County (Phoenix) District
Attorney Rick Romley, an inveterate drug warrior sensing fresh election
fodder, jumped on Sperling and campaign spokesman Sam Vagenas in July.
Indicative of the quality of Romley's attack was the following dire warning:
"We are going to have every guy in the world coming to Arizona because
he can get pot free," Romley said, challenging Sperling to face off against
him in a public debate.
Nice stunt, but Sperling
hasn't bitten yet. Instead, his people got Proposition 203 on the
ballot. According to a summary by legislative analysts, the measure
would among other things:
Unlike the initiative in neighboring
Nevada, Proposition 203 does not remove simple possession of small amounts
of marijuana from the grip of intrusive drug laws. But like the Nevada
initiative, it implies a challenge to the federal Controlled Substances
Act (or at least the way it is currently interpreted and enforced) over
the creation of a state-run or state-authorized marijuana distribution
system. While the states begin to attempt to find ways out of the
drug war mire, the Bush administration shows no signs of bending.
A confrontation looms unless and until the federal government changes its
ways. And the states aren't waiting.
Decriminalize the possession
of up to two ounces of marijuana, two marijuana plants, and marijuana-related
paraphernalia. Those caught with small amounts of marijuana would
face a civil citation and possible fine of $250 for a first or second offense,
or $750 for a third offense or more within two years. The fine could
be waived upon completion of an approved drug education program.
Require the Department of Public
Safety to provide up to two ounces of marijuana free of charge to any qualified
medical marijuana patient within a 30-day period. The DPS stash would
come from Arizona marijuana seizures and would be held at secure locations,
which DPS would be required to divulge to the public.
Require the Arizona Department
of Health Services to create a medical marijuana registry card system for
people "who provide written documentation from the person's attending physician"
that medical marijuana may mitigate symptoms of a debilitating physical
condition. Cardholders and designated primary caregivers would be
able to possess two ounces or grow two plants without any penalty.
Require that anyone convicted
for a first or second time on drug paraphernalia charges receive probation.
Require that anyone serving
time for personal possession or use of a controlled substance be paroled
or released to community supervision, unless he is serving another sentence
or is judged a danger to the public by the Board of Executive Clemency.
and click on Proposition 203 for the state legislative analysts' summary.
to read the text of the initiative.
-- END --
Issue #250, 8/16/02
A Message to Our Readers: 250 Issues of The Week Online | US Seeks Civil Injunction Against Lakota Hemp Grower, Supporters Celebrate Successful Harvest | DRCNet Interview: Jack Cole, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition | Initiatives Heat Up I: Tumultuous Week in Nevada, Cops Flip-Flop on Endorsement, Resort to Bald-Faced Lies | Initiatives Heat Up II: Storm Clouds over Ohio | Initiatives Heat Up III: Michigan Governor Flails and Fails in Anti-Initiative Move | Initiatives Heat Up IV: DC "Treatment Not Jail" Initiative Makes November Ballot, Excludes Marijuana, Heroin, Psychedelics | Initiatives Heat Up V: Arizona to Vote on Marijuana Decrim, Much More | Initiatives Heat Up VI: DC Board of Elections Rejected Thousands of Valid Signatures, MPP Challenging | Newsbrief: Afghan Heroin Labs Reappear | Newsbrief: Grateful Dead Reunion Just Like Old Days -- Many Arrested | Newsbrief: NJ Bans Devices That Defeat Drug Tests | Newsbrief: East Europe Teens Catching Up to West in Drug Use | Newsbrief: DARE Axed in Cincy -- Dayton Next? | Newsbrief: Canada Judge Rips DEA Law Violations | Newsbrief: NORML Not Allowed at Indiana State Fair | Newsbrief: Infected Needles, Alcoholism Lead to Increased Liver Damage, Deaths in England, Study Finds | Legislative Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
PERMISSION to reprint or
redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby
granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and,
where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your
publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks
payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for
materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we
request notification for our records, including physical copies where
material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network,
P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202)
293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank
Articles of a purely
educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet
Foundation, unless otherwise noted.