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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Over 250,000 signatures for Medical Marijuana

Earliest ballot initiative turn-in since 2000

PHOENIX (April 14) - The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project was the first campaign committee to turn in the required number of signatures—153,365—to qualify for the November ballot.

Today the campaign committee delivered more than 100 boxes of petitions, with more than 252,000 signatures enclosed, to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, making it the first committee to file signatures this early since 2000. On Nov. 2, Arizona voters will be asked to vote yes on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act to allow terminally and seriously ill patients who suffer from certain qualifying conditions access to medical marijuana.

"Right now, Arizona patients battling cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases face prison time for trying to find relief for debilitating conditions,” said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project. “By passing the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, we can stop this cruel and unnecessary policy. If we are going to have a war on marijuana, let’s at least take the sick and dying off the battlefield.”

Upon its passage by Arizona voters, medical marijuana will be regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services and will permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to legally purchase marijuana from tightly regulated clinics—as they would any other medicine—so they need not purchase it from the criminal market. It will protect seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution for the simple act of taking their doctor-recommended medicine.

Heather Torgerson, 29, of Phoenix, is a brain cancer survivor and an advocate for patient access to medical marijuana. “I am the face of a patient who uses medical marijuana to stay alive,” said Torgerson. “Without it I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

During the press conference she announced that three years ago to the day, she awoke from a seven-hour brain surgery to remove a Grade IV glioblastoma multiform—one of the most deadly forms of cancer a person can have—to her doctor telling her that she only had six months to live. Heather uses medical marijuana to increase her appetite due to chemotherapy treatments, as well as for pain management. She feels that those who need medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms of certain illnesses should have access to it without the threat of being arrested.

“I have the fear of going to jail every day because medical marijuana is not accessible in Arizona. If this initiative is passed, I can get my life back,” added Torgerson.

Dr. Sue Sisley spoke at the press conference on behalf of many Arizona physicians. “It is my hope as a concerned physician that today we begin the process where common sense and compassionate medical marijuana allowance is embraced in Arizona.”

Having treated numerous patients who would qualify for medical marijuana under the initiative, Dr. Sisley is an advocate for patient access to medical marijuana. “It is vitally important that seriously and terminally ill patients have legal access to safe and effective means of treating their illness. The potential benefits of medical marijuana greatly outweigh the risks.”

The passage of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act would:
--Permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to legally purchase their medicine from tightly regulated clinics, as they would any other medicine— so they need not purchase it from the criminal market.
--Permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to cultivate their own marijuana for medical use if a regulated medical marijuana clinic is not located within 25 miles of the qualifying patient.
--Include the following qualifying conditions: HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, Parkinson ’s disease, among other serious and terminal illnesses (for a full list of qualifying conditions visit www.StopArrestingPatients.org.
--Create registry identification cards, so that law enforcement officials could easily tell who was a registered patient, and establish penalties for false statements and fraudulent ID cards.

Marijuana has demonstrated health benefits for seriously ill patients with a variety of conditions, ranging from HIV/AIDS to cancer to hepatitis C to neuropathic pain. Thousands of patients are already using marijuana with their doctors’ recommendation, risking arrest and prosecution. This law will protect those patients.

For more information, visit www.StopArrestingPatients.org.

1 comment:

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