Medical Marijuana Initiative on California Ballot

California's Medical Marijuana Initiative has qualified for the November general election. The Secretary of State's office in Sacramento certified the initiative measure which will allow California voters the opportunity to legalize marijuana for medical use.The initiative, which gathered 775,000 signatures to qualify for ballot access, provides that "patients or defined caregivers, who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician, are exempt from general provisions of law which otherwise prohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana. "It also provides that "physicians shall not be punished or denied any right or privilege for recommending marijuana to a patient for medical purposes."This measure will not legalize or otherwise change existing law against use, sale, or possession of marijuana for recreational use, proponents note. It will prevent the criminal prosecution of those patients who have a legitimate medical need to use marijuana.Although more research is needed, it is clear from both available studies and rapidly accumulating anecdotal evidence that marijuana is a valuable aid in reducing pain and suffering for patients with a number of serious ailments including cancer, spastic disorders, glaucoma, and the appetite loss associated with the wasting syndrome of AIDS."This proposition would not have been necessary if Gov. [Pete] Wilson had not vetoed S.B.1364 in 1994 and A.B. 1529 in 1995," said longtime marijuana activist Dennis Peron, referring to two prior medical marijuana bills that were passed by the California legislature. "This whole issue is more about compassion than marijuana. I think it's time to let doctors decide, not politicians."

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