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3/23/2010 1:01:00 PM
Medical marijuana law returning to Arizona ballot
If approved, users will have to pay up
PHOENIX -- If voters decide to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, users will have to give some of what they pay to the state.

Without debate the Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to legislation that says marijuana should be subject to the state sales tax. That would be an exception from existing law which exempts prescription medications from tax.

Sen. Jorge Garcia, D-Tucson, said he supports the initiative to allow doctors to give patients a written ``certification' to purchase and use marijuana. But he said there is no reason to exempt it from taxes.

Legislative staffers estimate the levy could raise $1.3 million a year at the current 5.6 percent sales tax -- more if voters approve a temporary one-cent hike on May 18.

The marijuana initiative will go to voters in November.

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- What happened to a Wal-Mart worker in Michigan who was fired for testing positive for marijuana probably could not happen in Arizona if voters approve a ballot measure in November.

The initiative would allow doctors to essentially prescribe marijuana to patients who are suffering from any one of a specific set of conditions. It also would allow creation of a network of nonprofit shops that would sell marijuana to those who have those prescriptions and let those not within 25 miles of a shop to grow their own.

But the ballot measure also contains anti-discrimination provisions, including one that says an employer cannot make hiring, firing and disciplinary conditions based on a person's status as the holder of a medical marijuana card. Potentially more significant, that protection extends to someone who tests positive for drugs unless the company could prove the person used or possessed marijuana on the job or was "impaired' during work hours.

Two labor lawyers said that will present significant hurdles for Arizona companies in proving what is impaired.

And Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona initiative, said it is, in fact, the intent of backers to preclude workers from being fired for testing positive on the job. "I believe that our language is very clear on that point,' he said.

The Michigan case, which came to light Thursday, involves Joseph Casias who has a medical marijuana card under that state's laws to deal with the pain from sinus cancer and a brain tumor.

He told ABC News it was never an issue until he sprained his knee at work last November and, pursuant to company policy, had to take a drug test. Casias said company officials fired him for the positive test, saying it doesn't honor the marijuana cards.

According to ABC, Michigan law says employers do not have to accommodate the ingestion of marijuana in the workplace or employees working while under the influence.

That, however, would not be the case in Arizona if voters approve the version of the law likely to appear on the ballot in November. Backers claim they already have the 153,365 valid signatures necessary to qualify and will file the petitions next month.

Attorney Don Johnsen said current state and federal law does not require companies to make accommodations or provide special treatment for those who are using marijuana.

"This ballot initiative obviously would reverse that,' he said, effectively prohibiting employers from firing those who are registered as medical marijuana users. And Johnson said the escape provision -- showing someone was "impaired' -- probably won't help much.

"Proving something like that is very expensive and very difficult and very risky,' he said.

The problem, according to attorney David Selden, is the nature of the testing.

"Unlike alcohol testing, drug testing doesn't measure the current level of impairment,' he said. In fact, someone who smoked marijuana any time in the past month might register positive.

Johnson said cases would wind up in court, with each side calling medical experts to opine whether the worker was impaired.

"One doctor may say, 'Yeah, based on these facts, in my professional opinion this person was impaired or under the influence,' ' he said. "In another case, a doctor might reach a different conclusion.'

Selden said it probably would take an employer catching someone smoking marijuana on the job, or at least possessing it, to be able to fire someone.

Myers acknowledged that, given the language of the initiative, deciding whether someone is impaired "is going to be a subjective measurement.'

"Ultimately we are not able to draft legislation that is going to account for all the situations that are going to come up,' he said. And Myers agreed with Johnsen that the cases are going to end up in court.

The initiative, modeled after similar laws in other states, requires "written certification' from a doctor to get up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. The drugs would come from nonprofit dispensaries, though the question of where they get their plants or seeds is not addressed.

But Myers said there are differences in this plan designed to make it less subject to abuse than the California model, like distance restrictions of these shops from schools.

There also is a list of medical conditions that could be treated with marijuana, ranging from glaucoma and AIDS to chronic or debilitating conditions that lead to severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

Arizona voters actually approved a measure in 1996 allowing doctors to prescribe otherwise illegal drugs to seriously and terminally ill patients, only to have key provisions repealed by the Legislature.

That repeal was overridden by voters in 1998. But the wording of the measure -- requiring an actual written prescription -- made it useless after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency threatened to revoke all prescription-writing privileges of any doctor who wrote such an order.

A 2002 measure sought to get around that by making a simple written recommendation by a doctor sufficient. But that initiative failed for several reasons, including a provision that would have made the Department of Public Safety the state's largest marijuana supplier.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2010
Article comment by: Bob Chapel

I'm voting yes on this. And I am voting yes on this mainly BECAUSE of the violence on the border. I am a born-again Christian and have been against legalizing marijuana for years, but it is time to end the violence and deaths on the border. As long as marijuana remains illegal then the killings will continue. As soon as marijuana is legalized then the money will dry up for the drug dealers, just like how it did after prohibition was repealed. The only reason drugs are illegal is so the CIA can continue to make profits to fund their black ops, just like they do with the opium that our troops are guarding in Afghanistan. A lot of evil will end when the money dries up for these crooks.

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010
Article comment by: Puff (the magic dragon)

The notion that marijuana is safer for the user than alcohol, or at least no worse, has become one of the soothing and glibly repeated clichés of the day. The A.M.A. and the National Research Council recently prepared a "major position paper" (translation: a report that falls just short of being official A.M.A. policy).
It is well established that the use of marijuana does not produce physical dependence, but can result in psychological dependence. Advocates of legalized marijuana concede this, but add that already disturbed users are more likely than others to develop such dependence. The A.M.A./N.R.C. report makes no such distinctions. Simply put, marijuana can cause psychological dependence, and should therefore be avoided.
The purified and concentrated active ingredient of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can cause the same sort of hallucinogenic symptoms as LSD. The A.M.A. feels that any LSD-like drug, in any concentration, should not be available to the public.
Hashish, a form of marijuana with an extremely high concentration of the hemp plant resin, is more dangerous than the garden variety of marijuana locally available .in the U.S. The A.M.A./N.R.C. report further predicts that any relaxation of anti-marijuana laws would encourage an even heavier illegal traffic in hashish, than that at present.
I find that a little scary.

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010
Article comment by: Gary Mialocq

For the Christians in the crowd:

"In 1860 the Ohio State Medical Society concurred with Biblical scholars that 'the gall and vinegar or myrrhed wine offered to our saviour immediately before his crucifixion was a preparation of Indian hemp." ~ Chris Bennet - Green Gold

At Exodus 30:22-25, God gives the recipe to Moses for holy anointing oil. One of the key ingredients of this oil is cannabis hemp. The Hebrew word Keneh-bosem is mistranslated as sweet calamus, aromatic cane or sweet cane. The story goes that King James intentionally mistranslated Keneh-bosem into Calamus after his wife was caught in an affair. Canaan was named for Cannabis. Evidently, the bible translators are trying to hide the fact that this is marijuana. Cannabis Hemp is one of the many blessings that God gave to man as stated at Genesis 1:11 and Genesis 1:29, and we are commanded to appreciate and to use all of God's creations as long as it is received with thanks, as stated at 1 Timothy 4:4.

For those who seek proof:

1975 - Researchers at the Medical College of Virginia discover that cannabis is incredibly successful for reducing the size of many types of tumors, both benign and cancerous.

In 2000 Dr. Manuel Guzman of Complutense University in Madrid Spain re-discovered that THC destroys tumors with no negative side effects whatsoever. His team also irrigated healthy rats brains with high doses of THC for seven days and again found no negative results. Cannabinoids kill cancer cells by cutting off their blood supply but not to the healthy cells. These results have since been duplicated around the globe with many other cancers as well.

In 2005 Dr. Xia Zhang of the University of Saskatchewan found that THC actually promotes the growth of brain cells bringing new hope for head trauma and stroke patients. The same year the Scripps Institute reported that THC was a superior inhibitor of the plaque that causes Alzheimers. Unfortunately we hear little of any of these findings.

In 2008 researchers in Italy and the U.K. found that cannabinoids have germ killing activity against MRSA and kill bacteria in a different way than current antibiotics, meaning they might bypass bacterial resistance. MRSA's are becoming more and more prevalent and new treatments are desperately needed.

Cannabis has also been found extremely helpful with autism, epilepsy, arthritis, migraine, asthma, emphysema, MS, ALS, OCD, ADHD, chronic pain, nausea, cystic fibrosis, lupus, tuberculosis, muscular dystrophy, depression, diabetes, glaucoma, alcoholism, herpes, anxiety, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, Tourettes, Crohn's disease, and more. It is the safest medicine known to man. All mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have cannabinoid receptors throughout their body that work independently of those that control the heart and breathing which is why cannabis cannot kill you. The hemp seed is the single most nutritionally complete food source on Earth, reintroduced to our diets it will alleviate many of the above mentioned diseases and help end world hunger.

So, if you take this information and add it to all the all the nutritional, industrial and cosmetic uses, then add in that it was God himself that in the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament instructed Moses to use 250 shekels of cannabis(kaneh bosm) in the Holy Oil used to anoint all Priests, Kings, and Prophets, for all generations to come, including that of Jesus and even today as the title Christ/Messiah means literally covered in oil, anointed, I think we have the botanical Messiah, the Mystical Tree of Life, not a worthless plant!!!

Have a nice day.

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010
Article comment by: tom jones

Mr. Doe,
it's really quite unfair to lump a flower with chemicals, or to even mention the word tweeker in the same sentence with the cannabis user.
Braidick obviously was not using our beloved god given flower in a good way, he was on drugs! that would be the pills! and most likely has mental issues. And so this is how we'll treat everyone Mr. Doe? medical users? as criminals?
Let me ask, do you use alcohol? by your standards, everyone who uses it must be a killer/rapist. Does that seem fair?
PLEASE I invite you to read the initiative:
NOTE: daddy's an daughters, I feel very lucky to have 4!
and they all know how to fight, survive urban and desert. Just because some **&$%#@%&&$#$ comes along hurting people does not make any less YOUR responsibility to teach them to protect themselves

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010
Article comment by: Samantha Anderson

I believe there should be a stature on this topic for example it has been proven that Chemo patience have less side effects and an improved appetite when using small amount of marijuana. Also some people use it to slow down eye disorders and other illnesses. i understand that it could lead to other use of drugs but so can prescriptions drugs and alcohol that are already legal. Maybe we should be able to regulate it then we maybe able to get some money on it instead of fighting a war against it.

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010
Article comment by: N James

OMG do some research. Long term effects. Of course for medicinal purposes I guess they don't think there will be 'long term'. What is going on in this country today?

Posted: Thursday, March 25, 2010
Article comment by: Lucas M.

Dear John Doe.

It's truly sad how unintelligent and ill-informed the common man is.

Consider the nation of The Netherlands and this study.

In The Netherlands,
Marijuana is regulated and legally sold.

Above are the usage facts for your consideration.

I hope this clarifies any ignorant ideals preached to you by your long educationally "enlightened" background.

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Article comment by: John Doe

Mr. Kyle,
Verde Independent News March 24th, 2010

“COTTONWOOD - Carlton Braidick was arrested and charged with endangerment, domestic violence threatening and disorderly conduct with two women under 20 years of age. Police had received a 911 call that Braidick had threatened to shoot one woman in the face if she didn't get in his truck.”

“A drug recognition expert suspected marijuana and a narcotic analgesic. A test showed the presence of THC and Oxycodone in his system.”

Oh, yeah, again we see that tweekers are so harmless. That 20 year old girl’s daddy should have taught her how to shoot and then we would have one less tweeker living. There is a reason why this society keeps voting to make drugs illegal to use. What civilized society in history have you seen that allowed for the free range use of drugs and still progressed? I didn’t learn about them in history class, maybe they just didn’t survive long enough to be known.

But don’t worry, when you burn a hole in your brain and make yourself mentally ill I am going to vote for the euthanizing of drug users. Because I am not going to pay for you to be kept in a permanent care facility for the rest of your life when you achieve the mental capacity of a 2 year old that plays with their own poop. I doubt that your family will be willing to change your diaper when your 30 or to pay taxes so someone else can. Tweekers may also kill themselves off by OD’ing or by stupid acts like Mr. Braidick.

Vote YES on legalizing drugs. Lets allow the drug user to weed themselves out.

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Article comment by: tom jones

Malcom you said it quite well.
I think 1.3 mil is low I think we'll do a lot better than that.
Lets move forward Arizona, this is good for us all.

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Article comment by: Have Some Compassion RN

Legalizing marijuana is what the pharmaceutical companies fear the most: a cheap, effective drug that is easily obtained, effective, has minimal side effects (especially when compared to some medications) and works on a variety of diseases--and they don't get a cut of the $$$$.

There is a synthetic THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) called Marinol that is manufactured by the pharmacutical companies. But the cost averages $800 a month, whereas marijuana is cheaper, but the pharm. companies don't make any $$$ from it.

Have some compassion. Why deny an effective drug to patient?

Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Article comment by: malcolm kyle

There is an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. If you are not capable of understanding this connection, then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. Anybody 'halfway bright' and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding, that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand.

No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

If you still support the kool aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights.

The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation!

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