Arizona Steps Back as Decrim Initiative Loses, Anti-Reform Sentencing Initiative Wins 11/8/02

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Arizona voters approved groundbreaking drug reform initiatives in 1996 and 1998, but balked on Tuesday at decriminalizing marijuana possession and requiring state police to distribute medical marijuana. While voters rejected Proposition 203 57% to 43%, they approved a measure allowing judges to impose jail time on drug offenders who refuse drug treatment.

Prop. 203 was spearheaded by The People Have Spoken, the same group that ran the two successful earlier initiatives and was largely funded by University of Phoenix founder John Sperling, with help from financier George Soros and Progressive Insurance magnate Peter Lewis. The multi-faceted initiative would also have effectively ended the jailing of drug offenders.

But it faltered under a counterattack by Arizona prohibitionists, with help from federal officials such as drug czar John Walters, who campaigned against the measure in the state last month. Led by Maricopa County Attorney and drug czar wannabe Rick Romley, opponents also struck back with Proposition 302, which will enhance the ability of drug court judges to punish relapses by drug offenders in treatment by sending them to jail.

"A defeat (of 203) will have national ramifications," Romley told the Arizona Republic Tuesday evening. "Every state is watching Arizona because the tide will have turned. People will say: 'Is it really about medical marijuana, or is it about drug legalization?'"

Romley also cheered the passage of Prop. 302, which will allow judges to jail first- and second-time drug offenders who fail drug treatment programs. Under current Arizona law, only third-time offenders are now subject to such treatment. "This is the hammer we needed to get some people off heroin and amphetamine," he said Tuesday.

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Issue #262, 11/8/02 Editorial: More to This Vote Than Meets the Eye | Black Tuesday for Drug Reform | Arizona Steps Back as Decrim Initiative Loses, Anti-Reform Sentencing Initiative Wins | Legal Pot in Nevada? Not This Year | New York: Pataki Victory Swamps Dems, Golisano, Marijuana Reform Party, Libertarians | Ohio "Treatment Not Jail" Initiative Runs Into Drug War Buzzsaw | No Hemp, No New Rights for Defendants in South Dakota | Wisconsin: Libertarian Thompson Gets Ten Percent | DC Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Treatment Not Jail Initiative | Massachusetts Voters Tell Reps to Support Marijuana Decrim | San Francisco Voters Ask City to Look at Growing Its Own | FAMM Victory: Amendment to Cap Federal Guideline Sentences for Low-Level Drug Offenders is Now Law | Colombian Campaign for Drug Legalization | Anti-Prohibitionists Meet Human Rights Advocates and Political Leaders at Albania Congress of Transnational Radical Party | Newsbrief: Nordic Prohibitionists Beginning Counter-Campaign Supporting UN Drug Conventions | Web Scan: Forbes on Hope Taft, Newsday on Tony Papa, New Scientist on Cannabis, Raich v. Ashcroft Lawsuit Docs | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar

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