After the defeat of Prop 205, which had the ambitious potential to make recreational cannabis legal in Arizona, a new initiative has already popped up in preparation for 2018. Though this new initiative is not as bold as the last, it would help a large number of patients in the state who currently have trouble qualifying for medical marijuana under the current laws. An expansion to the current laws is not quite what marijuana reform advocates were hoping for, but it would still be a step in the right direction, and one that Prop 205’s opposition would have a harder time going up against.
The current laws allow for patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease and patients with “severe chronic pain” to access medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. This new proposal, which is being brought about thanks to a couple who run a medical marijuana dispensary, would add insomnia, Tourette’s syndrome, neuropathy and fibromyalgia, among other conditions that are not currently covered in the state, but have been seen to respond well to medical marijuana.
While they point out that there are a number of people who should be allowed to have medical marijuana under the condition “severe and chronic pain” – even if they have a condition like fibromyalgia which is known for causing debilitating pain, unless it is specifically mentioned in their medical records, it doesn’t count. If this initiative were to make the 2018 ballot and pass, then a number of patients who deserve the right to an alternative medicine will finally have that choice as an option.
On top of adding these now conditions to the list that qualifies for medical cannabis, the newly drafted initiative would also remove the requirement that patients must be recertified every year by their physician. After all, it can end up being an expensive trip that is more or less unnecessary if the patient is feeling better once they have been medicating with cannabis and it continues to be effective. It would also reduce the price patients pay to register from $150 to $10 – which would be much more affordable for patients who often already have to worry about insurance premiums and other medical related expenses.
The last thing that this initiative would change about Arizona’s current medical marijuana laws is that it would make it possible for nearly all patients to have to option of growing their own medicine at home. As it stands now, patients living within 25 miles of a dispensary are required to get their medicine from those dispensaries. If this initiative were to pass it would drop that to 1 mile – which would allow patients who cannot afford dispensary prices a way to afford the medicine they need.
As far as petitioning and signature gathering goes, the owners of Independence Wellness Center who are running the new campaign say that they are certain that having the needed 150,642 signatures will not be a problem. They are figuring that the 108,000 Arizonans who already qualify for medical marijuana will certainly be a source of signatures – and they are hoping that the entire campaign will be successful on only volunteer resources. They have plenty of time between now and July 2018 to gather up those signatures and hopefully allow more people access to medical marijuana.