Official Ballot Title and Explanatory Statement
The ballot title and explanatory statement were written by the State Attorney General as required by law.
|Shall the medical use of marijuana for certain terminal or debilitating conditions be permitted, and physicians authorized to advise patients about medical use of marijuana?|
The Law As It Presently Exists
Washington has adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (Chapter 69.50 RCW), in which drugs and other controlled substances are classified into several "schedules" numbered Schedule I through Schedule V. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I or Schedule II substance, depending on its use. It is a crime to possess, dispense, or transfer controlled substances except as specifically authorized by law.
There is currently only one program permitting the use of marijuana. Chapter 69.51 RCW authorizes the use of marijuana for purposes of research into its possible therapeutic value. This law is administered by the state department of health. Cancer patients in chemotherapy and radiology and glaucoma patients may apply to participate in this research program. Patient qualification review is performed by a committee of specialist physicians, who may add other disease groups to the program upon review of pertinent medical data and approval of the federal government. Patients in the research program may receive marijuana from the state board of pharmacy and may use it as part of the research program. Any other use of marijuana remains a crime.
The Effect Of The Measure If Approved Into Law
This measure would authorize the use of marijuana to treat patients with certain terminal or debilitating illnesses, including: cancer; HIV virus (AIDS); multiple sclerosis; epilepsy or other seizure disorders; spasticity disorders; glaucoma; pain which is not relieved by standard medical treatments and medications; and other medical conditions approved by the state medical quality assurance board. These patients would be defined as "qualifying patients".
Licensed physicians would be exempted from criminal laws or other penalties for advising qualifying patients about the risks and benefits of marijuana use. Physicians could lawfully provide documentation, based on the physician's assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history and medical condition, that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for that patient. Qualifying patients and their primary caregivers would be authorized to acquire and possess marijuana if they possessed no more than a sixty day supply for the patient's personal, medical use and if they could present valid documentation of authorization by a physician. Parents or guardians could possess marijuana solely for the medical use of qualifying patients under eighteen years of age.
The measure would not authorize the acquisition, possession, or use of marijuana for any other purpose. Possession, sale, or use of marijuana for non-medical purposes would remain a crime. It would be a felony to fraudulently produce or to alter any documents relating to the medical use of marijuana. It would be a misdemeanor to use or display medical marijuana in public view. Health insurance providers would not be required to pay claims for the medical use of marijuana. No physician would be required to authorize the use of medical marijuana. The measure would not require the accommodation of any medical use of marijuana in any place of employment, school bus or school grounds, or youth center. No person would be authorized to engage in the medical use of marijuana in such a way as to endanger the health or well-being of any person through the use of a motorized vehicle on a street, road, or highway. The state could not be held liable for any damaging effects from permitted marijuana use. 8/21/98