By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have approved medical marijuana for people with chronic or debilitating diseases.
By The AP
The decision makes Arizona the 15th state to have approved a medical marijuana law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states and the District of Columbia followed.
The ballot measure on the issue, Proposition 203, won by just 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million ballots counted, according to final tallies announced on Saturday.
The approval came as something of a surprise. At one point on Election Day, the measure trailed by about 7,200 votes. The gap gradually narrowed until it edged ahead during counting on Friday. The final tally was 841,346 in favor and 837,005 opposed.
"We really believe that we have an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the country on what a good medical marijuana program looks like," said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project.
The Arizona measure will allow patients with diseases including cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C and any other "chronic or debilitating" disease that meets guidelines to grow plants or to buy two and a half ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
The patients must obtain a recommendation from their doctor and register with the Arizona Department of Health Services. The law allows for no more than 124 marijuana dispensaries in the state.