opinion

What editorial writers are saying about marijuana ballot initiatives

Some states are voting Nov. 2 on the following referendums: whether to legalize medical marijuana, make it more widely available or decriminalize it.

Posted Oct. 25, 2010.

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Even some municipalities are looking at nonbinding resolutions on legalizing medical marijuana -- or binding resolutions that would set a tax rate on it if it is approved.

Snuff out pot measure

The proposal has riveted national attention on California, as did Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which permitted [for the first time in the U.S.] the medicinal use of marijuana. Thirteen states [and the District of Columbia] have since adopted similar measures, and public approval for medical marijuana has increased significantly. ... The question now is whether we will do it again. Will we thumb our noses at Washington and blaze another new trail? We should not. ... [Proposition 19] is in fact an invitation to chaos. It would permit each of California's 478 cities and 58 counties to create local regulations regarding the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana. ... The proposition would have merited more serious consideration had it created a statewide regulatory framework for local governments, residents and businesses. But it still would have contained a fatal flaw: Californians cannot legalize marijuana. Regardless of how the vote goes on Nov. 2, under federal law marijuana will remain a Schedule I drug, whose use for any reason is proscribed by Congress. Los Angeles Times, Sept. 24

Prop. 203 would get pot to those who need it

Arizona voters have twice approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It's back on the ballot for a third time as Prop. 203. We recommend a "yes" vote on Prop. 203. The law has never gone into effect because the proposition language was too broad and because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration warned that it would prosecute any "prescription" under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Maybe the third time's the charm. The language of the initiative has been polished. And, for the record, the Obama administration, which is focusing on criminal drug-enforcement efforts, last year sent a memo encouraging federal prosecutors not to prosecute those who distribute marijuana "in accordance with state law." Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), Sept. 30

Just say "no" to medical marijuana

Arizona's medical-marijuana initiative is a bad idea wrapped in a cloak of compassion. The sales pitch is that pot should be legally available to relieve the suffering of severely ill patients. But the medical argument, whatever its merits, is a smokescreen. ... Even though more than a dozen other states have legalized medical marijuana, it is poor public policy to set up a system for prescribing and using a substance that is still illegal under federal law, with no standards for dosage or use. The Arizona Republic (Phoenix), Sept. 26

No on Measure 74, a free-for-all on pot

If the main impact of Measure 74 was to improve the access of very sick people to medical marijuana, Oregon voters could support the initiative with enthusiasm. But Measure 74 goes far beyond sick people, and far beyond medicine. It would provide legal immunity to drug dealers and allow unlimited dispensaries throughout Oregon [which approved medical marijuana in 1998]. It would legalize marijuana possession for more people who are not sick and create a special program to provide low-income people with a steady drug supply. Voters should reject this measure. Many sick and law-abiding people would surely benefit from better access to medical marijuana, but Measure 74 is not the way to do it. The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.), Sept. 12

Legalize pot? Maybe, but not via Prop. 19

Should California -- should America -- legalize marijuana? Not just for real or purported medicinal uses, but for anyone who wants to light a pipe to unwind after work or pass an afternoon fishing at the lake? More and more, the reasonable answer to that question looks like "Yes." Is Proposition 19 the right way to do it? We're not persuaded. ... Legalizing pot would launch a journey into a radical social experiment; doing so via initiative would dramatically lessen the state's ability to make midcourse corrections. And the details of Proposition 19 leave too many open questions. The Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.), Oct. 7

Measure 74 would further confuse marijuana issue

We have argued before that Oregonians need to make up their minds about marijuana -- either it is legal or it is not. Measure 74 takes another incremental step toward legalization, but fails to ask the really hard questions about pot in overall society. Lake Oswego (Ore.) Review, Sept. 30

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