Election 2002: Arizona 10/18/02

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Voters in Arizona will consider two competing initiatives with very different emphases. Proposition 203, the Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act of 2002, sponsored by The People Have Spoken, is a multifaceted reform effort that builds on successful initiatives by the same group in 1996 and 1998. The initiative would decriminalize marijuana possession, require the state Department of Public Safety to distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession, require a sentence of probation -- not jail -- for a drug possession offense, allow judges to order drug offenders to treatment but not to jail them if they fail, and require parole for everyone convicted of personal possession of any drug.

While opponents, including drug czar John Walters, who was in the state to campaign against the initiative last week, have criticized every aspect of the initiative, it is the provision barring judges from jailing drug offenders for violating treatment orders that sparked an opposition initiative. Proposition 302, spearheaded by Maricopa County Prosecutor Rick Romley, who aspires to be national drug czar some day, would allow judges to impose jail time or revoke probation for persons who failed or refused drug treatment.

The Arizona law enforcement establishment is solidly opposed to Prop. 203, as are both major party gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Janet Napolitano and Republican Matt Salmon, who stood flanking Walters at a news conference last week. But that doesn't seem to make much difference to Arizona voters, who appear poised to pass the reform. The $1.3 million put into the campaign by University of Phoenix founder John Sperling may have something to do with that. While opponents make generous use of their public offices to attack the initiative, in terms of real campaign contributions they have raised only $75,000.

The most recent statewide poll, conducted between September 26 and 29 by the Social Research Laboratory at Northern Arizona University, showed Prop. 203 leading with 53% support. Even Romley, point man for the Arizona drug war, appears to have conceded defeat. "I strongly suspect that it will pass," he told the Arizona Daily Sun on October 1.

No polling data exists for Prop 302.

Prop 203 as it appears on the ballot:

Decriminalizes marijuana possession for personal use; $250 civil fine; Requires state to distribute marijuana free of charge upon physician's written documentation; Increases maximum penalty for violent crimes committed under influence of drugs; Eliminates mandatory minimum sentences; Requires parole if convicted of personal possession of controlled substance unless danger to public.

A "yes" vote shall have the effect of decriminalizing marijuana possession for personal use, providing for a $250 civil fine, requiring distribution of marijuana free of charge by the Department of Public Safety if a person's physician provides written documentation, increases the maximum sentence for violent crimes while committed under the influence of drugs, eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for drugs, requires parole for persons convicted of personal possession of a controlled substance unless they are a danger to the public.

A "no" vote shall have the effect of retaining the current criminal penalties for possession of marijuana and other controlled substances.

Proposition 302 as it appears on the ballot:
Allows court to impose term of incarceration if person convicted of personal possession or use of controlled substance or drug paraphernalia violates probation by committing another drug-related offense or refusing to participate in drug treatment, or if the person refuses drug treatment or rejects probation at the time of sentencing.

A "yes" vote shall have the effect of allowing a court to impose a term of incarceration if a person convicted of personal possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia violates probation by committing a drug-related offense or violates a court order relating to drug treatment, or if the person refuses drug treatment or rejects probation at sentencing.

A "no" vote shall have the effect of not allowing a court to impose a term of incarceration for persons convicted of possession of a controlled substance for personal use.

For complete initiative language, visit:


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Issue #259, 10/18/02 Election 2002:00:00 The Initiatives | Election 2002:00:00 Arizona | Election 2002:00:00 District of Columbia | Election 2002:00:00 Nevada | Election 2002:00:00 Ohio | Election 2002:00:00 South Dakota | Election 2002:00:00 Local Ballot Issues in San Francisco and Massachusetts | November Coalition Journey for Justice Roars through Michigan | Drug War Corruption in Colombia and Mexico | Newsbrief: New Compilation of California Medical Marijuana Guideline Info on MarijuanaInfo.org | Newsbrief: San Diego Medical Marijuana Activist Arrested on Federal Charges | Newsbrief: Damned Sad -- MADD Sues DAMMADD | Newsbrief: This Week's Cop Corruption Story | Newsbrief: DARE Attrition Continues in Kansas City, Kansas | Newsbrief: Canada Study Looks at Marijuana for HIV/AIDS Woes | Newsbrief: In First, British Marijuana User Wins with Medical Necessity Defense | Newsbrief: Virginia Man Lucks Out with Only Two Years in Prison for Sharing Joint with Teenager | Newsbrief: BC City Governments Ask for Tougher Grow Penalties | Newsbrief: Florida School District Wants Positive Drug Test Kids to Pay for Own Counseling | Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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