More MS news articles for September 2000

Amendment 20

September 17, 2000

WHAT IT WOULD DO

Authorize people with certain debilitating medical conditions to smoke marijuana and establish an affirmative defense in event of a criminal case for such patients and their primary care-givers.

THE BALLOT QUESTION

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution authorizing the medical use of marijuana for persons suffering from debilitating medical conditions, and, in connection therewith, establishing an affirmative defense to Colorado criminal laws for patients and their primary caregivers relating to the medical use of marijuana; establishing exceptions to Colorado criminal laws for patients and their primary caregivers in lawful possession of a registry identification cars for medical marijuana use and for physicians who advise patients or provide them with written documentation as to such medical marijuana use; defining "debilitating medical condition" and authorizing the state health agency to approve other medical conditions or treatments as debilitating medical conditions; requiring preservation of seized property interests that had been possessed, owned, or used in connection with a claimed medical use of marijuana and limiting forfeiture of such interests; establishing and maintaining a confidential state registry of patients receiving an identification card for the medical use of marijuana and defining eligibility for receipt of such a card and placement on the registry; restricting access to information in the registry; establishing procedures for issuance of an identification card; authorizing fees to cover administrative costs associated with the registry; specifying the form and amount of marijuana a patient may possess and restrictions on its use; setting forth additional requirements for the medical use of marijuana by patients less than 18 years old; directing enactment of implementing legislation and criminal penalties for certain offenses; requiring the state health agency designated by the governor to make application forms available to residents of Colorado for inclusion on the registry; limiting a health insurer's liability on claims relating to the medical use of marijuana; and providing that no employer must accommodate medical use of marijuana in the workplace.

PRO:

1. Gives patients with certain debilitating medical conditions an additional treatment option. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been shown to relieve the pain and suffering of some patients. It can be beneficial for individuals suffering from nausea, vomiting or lack of appetite due to chemotherapy or AIDS/HIV, pressure within the eye due to glaucoma, and severe muscle spasms from some neurological and movement disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

2. For patients suffering from serious illnesses, marijuana can be more effective than taking prescription drugs that contain synthetic THC. Furthermore, many drugs have side effects, but the adverse effects of marijuana are no worse than those of some prescription drugs used to treat the illnesses listed in the proposal.

3. Using marijuana for other than medical purposes would still be illegal in Colorado. Legal use of marijuana would be limited to patients on the state registry. The registry would consist only of those individuals who have submitted written documentation from their doctor indicating a qualifying medical condition. Registry identification cards would be valid for one year and would have to be renewed annually.

CON:

1. Using marijuana is not necessary to relieve nausea and pain or increase appetite. Other prescription drugs, including a synthetic version of THC, are available. This proposal sets a dangerous precedent for approval of medicines by popular vote, circumventing the usual process by which other medicines are legalized and regulated.

2. The proposal does not provide legal means for a patient to obtain marijuana. It would still be illegal to sell to another individual, including a patient on the state registry. Under federal law, it would still be illegal to sell or use marijuana for any purpose.

3. Research shows that smoking marijuana can be addictive and has other damaging health effects on users, such as pneumonia, cancers, and lower birth weights. The effects of smoking marijuana may be worse than those of smoking tobacco. There is no requirement for a prescription, no quality control or testing standards, and no control over strength, dosage, or frequency of use, such as those for prescription drugs. Patients have no control over the dosage received through smoked marijuana because potency can vary from plant to plant.

DONATIONS

SUPPORTING:

Coloradans for Medical Rights 2000 $771,483 raised since 1998, nearly all of it from Santa Monica, Calif.-based Americans for Medical Rights.

OPPOSING

Coloradans Against Legalizing Marijuana $36,945 raised since 1998, mostly from small contributors. Largest were $5,000 from Howard "Bo" Callaway in July 1998, and $2,000 from the Colorado Elks Association in April 1998.