Ballot Measure 8
Bill Allowing Medical Use of Marijuana


BALLOT LANGUAGE

This bill would allow patients to use marijuana for certain medical purposes. A doctor must find that the patient has a debilitating medical condition that might benefit from marijuana. An eligible minor could use medical marijuana only under the consent and control of a parent. There would be limits on how much medical marijuana a patient could possess. Patients and their primary care-givers who comply with this law would not be guilty of a crime. The state would create a confidential registry of patients who may use medical marijuana. Non-medical use of marijuana would still be a crime.

SHOULD THIS INITIATIVE BECOME LAW?
Yes [ ]
No [ ]


LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS AGENCY SUMMARY

This measure lets persons who have certain medical conditions possess, grow, and use marijuana under state law if told by their doctors that they might be helped by the use of marijuana. It allows the medical use of marijuana by persons less than 18 years of age who have certain medical conditions if the person's parent or guardian approves and other requirements are met. The medical conditions include cancer and chronic or debilitating diseases that have certain effects. The Department of Health and Social Services can add medical conditions to the list by regulation. The measure limits the amount of marijuana that a person may have at one time for medical use. A person may not be found guilty of a crime under state law that relates to having or using marijuana as allowed by the measure if the person has met the standards set forth in the measure. A doctor who advises certain patients on the medical use of marijuana may not be punished under state law. Marijuana that a person has for medical use would not be a controlled substance for the purpose of the crime and drug laws of this state.

The measure sets up a confidential way for persons to tell the state of their medical use of marijuana and get an I.D. card from the state. To get and keep an I.D. card, a person has to give the state a written statement from the person's doctor each year. A person who is cured must return the I.D. card. A person with an I.D. card may not use marijuana in plain view of the public or in a public place. A person with an I.D. card may not sell or give marijuana to someone the person knows does not have or is not eligible for such an I.D. card. A person with an I.D. card may not use marijuana in a way that endangers the health or well-being of any person.


FULL TEXT OF PROPOSED LAW

Be it enacted by the people of the State of Alaska:

Sec. 1. AS 17 is amended by adding a new chapter which reads as follows:

AS 17.35.010. Registry of Patients. (a) The Department shall create and maintain a confidential registry of patients who have applied for and are entitled to receive a registry identification card according to the criteria set forth in this chapter. Authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies shall be granted access to the information contained within the Department's confidential registry only for the purpose of verifying that an individual who has presented a registry identification card to a state or local law enforcement official is lawfully in possession of such card.
(b) No person shall be permitted to gain access to names of patients, physicians, primary care-givers or any information related to such persons maintained in connection with the Department's confidential registry, except for authorized employees of the Department in the course of their official duties and authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies who have stopped or arrested a person who claims to be engaged in the medical use of marijuana and in the possession of a registry identification card or its functional equivalent, pursuant to AS 17.35.010(e).
(c) In order to be placed on the state's confidential registry for the medical uses of marijuana, a patient shall provide to the Department:

(d) The Department shall verify all information submitted under AS 17.35.010(c) within 30 days of receiving it. The Department shall notify the applicant that his or her application for a registry identification card has been denied if its review of the information which the patient has provided discloses that the information required pursuant to AS 17.35.010(c) has not been provided or has been falsified. Otherwise, not more than five days after verifying such information, the Department shall issue a serially numbered registry identification card to the patient stating:
(e) If the Department fails to issue a registry identification card within thirty-five days of receipt of an application, the patient's application for such card will be deemed to have been approved. Receipt of an application shall be deemed to have occurred upon delivery to the Department or deposit in the United States mails. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no application shall be deemed received prior to June 1, 1999. A patient who is questioned by any state or local law enforcement official about his or her medical use of marijuana shall provide a copy of the written documentation submitted to the Department and proof of the date of mailing or other transmission of the written documentation for delivery to the Department, which shall be accorded the same legal effect as a registry identification card, until the patient receives actual notice that the application has been denied. No person shall apply for a registry identification card more than once every six months.
(f) The denial of a registry identification card shall be considered a final agency action subject to judicial review. Only the patient whose application has been denied shall have standing to contest the final agency action.
(g) When there has been a change in the name, address, physician, or primary care-giver of a patient who has qualified for a registry identification card, that patient must notify the state health agency of any such change within ten days. To maintain an effective registry identification card, a patient must annually resubmit updated written documentation to the state health agency, as well as the name and address of the patient's primary care-giver, if any.
(h) A patient who no longer has a debilitating medical condition shall return his or her registry identification card to the Department within twenty-four hours of receiving such diagnosis by his or her physician.
(i) The Department may determine and levy reasonable fees to pay for any administrative costs associated with its roles in this program.

AS 17.35.020. Medical Use of Marijuana. (a) A patient may not engage in the medical use of marijuana with more marijuana than is medically justified to address a debilitating medical condition. A patient's medical use of marijuana within the following limits is lawful:
(b) For quantities of marijuana in excess of the amounts in AS 17.35.020(a), a patient or his or her primary care-giver must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that any greater amount was medically justified to address the patient's debilitating medical condition.

AS 17.35.030. Privileged medical use of marijuana. (a) Except as otherwise provided in AS 17.35.040, no patient or primary care-giver may be found guilty of, or penalized in any manner for, a violation of any provision of law related to the medical use of marijuana, where it is proved by a preponderance of the evidence that:
(b) Except as otherwise provided in AS 17.35.040, no patient or primary care-giver in lawful possession of a registry identification card shall be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner for medical use of marijuana or for applying to have his or her name placed on the confidential register maintained by the Department.
(c) No physician shall be subject to any penalty, including arrest, prosecution, disciplinary proceeding, or be denied any right or privilege, for:
(d) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, no person, including a patient or primary care-giver, shall be entitled to the protection of this section for his or her acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, sale, distribution, and/or transportation of marijuana for non-medical use.
(e) Any property interest that is possessed, owned, or used in connection with the medical use of marijuana, or acts incidental to such use, shall not be harmed, neglected, injured, or destroyed while in the possession of state or local law enforcement officials where such property has been seized in connection with the claimed medical use of marijuana. Any such property interest shall not be forfeited under any provision of state or local law providing for the forfeiture of property other than as a sentence imposed after conviction of a criminal offense or entry of a plea of guilty to such offense. Marijuana and paraphernalia seized by state or local law enforcement officials from a patient or primary care-giver, in connection with the claimed medical use of marijuana shall be returned immediately upon the determination that the patient or primary care-giver is entitled to the protection contained in this section as may be evidenced, for example, by a decision not to prosecute, the dismissal of charges, or acquittal.

AS 17.35.040. Restrictions on medical use of marijuana. (a) No patient in lawful possession of a registry identification card shall:
(b) Any patient found by a preponderance of the evidence to have willfully violated the provisions of this chapter shall be precluded from obtaining or using a registry identification card for the medical use of marijuana for a period of one year.
(c) No governmental, private, or any other health insurance provider shall be required to be liable for any claim for reimbursement for the medical use of marijuana.
(d) Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any medical use of marijuana:
AS 17.35.050. Medical use of marijuana by a minor. Notwithstanding AS 17.35.030(a), no patient who has not reached the age of majority under AS 25.20 or who has not had the disabilities of a minor removed under AS 09.55.590 shall engage in the medical use of marijuana unless: (a) his or her physician has diagnosed the patient as having a debilitating medical condition;
(b) the physician has explained the possible risks and benefits of medical use of marijuana to the patient and one of the patient's parents or legal guardians residing in Alaska, if any;
(c) the physician has provided the patient with the written documentation specified in AS 17.35.010(c) (1);
(d) the patient's parent or legal guardian referred to in AS 17.35.050(b), consents to the Department in writing to serve as the patient's primary care-giver and to permit the patient to engage in the medical use of marijuana;
(e) the patient completes and submits an application for a registry identification card and the written consent referred to in AS 17.35.050(d) to the Department and receives a registry identification card;
(f) the patient and the primary care-giver collectively possess amounts of marijuana no greater than those specified in AS 17.35.020(a) (1) and (2); and
(g) the primary care-giver controls the acquisition of such marijuana and the dosage and frequency of its use by the patient.

AS 17.35.060. Addition of debilitating medical conditions. Not later than June 1, 1999, the Department shall promulgate regulations under the Administrative Procedure Act governing the manner in which it may consider adding debilitating medical conditions to the list provided in this section. After June 1, 1999, the Department shall also accept for consideration physician or patient initiated petitions to add debilitating medical conditions to the list provided in this section and, after hearing, shall approve or deny such petitions within one hundred eighty days of submission. The denial of such a petition shall be considered a final agency action subject to judicial review.

AS 17.35.070. Definitions. In this chapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise: (a) "Correctional facility" means a state prison institution operated and managed by employees of the Department of Corrections or provided to the Department of Corrections by agreement under AS 33.30.031 for the care, confinement or discipline of prisoners.
(b) "Debilitating medical condition" means:

(c) "Department" means the Department of Health and Social Services;
(d) "Medical use" means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, and/or transportation of marijuana and/or paraphernalia related to the administration of such marijuana to address the symptoms or effects of a debilitating medical condition only after a physician has authorized such medical use by a diagnosis of the patient's debilitating medical condition.
(e) "Patient" means a person who has a debilitating medical condition.
(f) "Physician" means a person licensed to practice medicine in this state or an officer in the regular medical service of the armed forces of the United States or the United States Public Health Service while in the discharge of their official duties, or while volunteering services without pay or other remuneration to a hospital, clinic, medical office, or other medical facility in this state;
(g) "Primary care-giver" means a person, other than the patient's physician, who is eighteen years of age or older and has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient who has a debilitating medical condition.
(h) "Prisoner" means a person detained or confined in a correctional facility, whether by arrest, conviction, or court order, or a person held as a witness or otherwise, including municipal prisoners held under contract and juveniles held under the authority of AS 47.10.
(i) "Registry identification card" means a document issued by the Department which identifies a patient authorized to engage in the medical use of marijuana and the patient's primary care-giver, if any.
(j) "Usable form" and "usable marijuana" means the seeds, leaves, buds, and flowers of the plant (genus) Cannabis, but does not include the stalks or roots.
(k) "Written documentation" means a statement signed by a patient's physician or copies of the patient's pertinent medical records.

AS 17.35.080. Short title AS 17.35.010 -- 17.35.070 may be cited as the Medical Uses of Marijuana for Persons Suffering From Debilitating Medical Conditions Act.

Sec. 2. AS 11.71.190 (b) is amended to read:

Sec. 11.71.190 (b). Schedule VIA. Marijuana is a schedule VIA controlled substance except for marijuana possessed for medical purposes under AS 17.35.


STATEMENT IN SUPPORT

Yes On #8 Helps Terminally Ill Patients And Others Suffering Debilitating Medical Conditions. Ballot Measure #8 would allow patients to use marijuana as a medicine if they have a debilitating disease and an authorization from their doctor. Dozens of scientific studies, including government and university-sponsored studies, have shown that marijuana can help patients with cancer and other diseases to get relief from severe pain, nausea or muscle spasticity.

Yes On #8 would give physicians the option of authorizing medical use of marijuana for patients in pain, protecting them from being treated as criminals. At the same time, Ballot Measure #8 retains current laws against non-medical use of marijuana, and contains strict controls on medical use. This commonsense measure will help thousands of Alaskans and future Alaskans with debilitating diseases.

Yes On #8 Will Help Many Cancer Chemotherapy Patients. Currently, one in three chemotherapy patients discontinues treatment because of severe nausea and vomiting. When standard anti-nausea drugs fail, marijuana can often ease a patient's nausea and permit continued treatment. New scientific evidence is emerging that helps prove marijuana's value as an alternative treatment for other medical conditions, including stroke and neuropathic pain.

Marijuana Would Still Be Illegal For Non-Medical Use. Ballot Measure #8 provides full protection against abuse of the new law:

Non-medical (or fraudulent medical) use of marijuana would still be a crime.

Only licensed physicians could authorize medical marijuana use.

Amounts that patients could possess would be strictly limited.

No use would be allowed in public or the work place.

A State of Alaska registration and ID card system would be established for medical users.

Only specific diseases would be covered, including cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, epilepsy, or severe pain and nausea.

Doctors Should Be Able To Make Recommendations To Help Their Patients. The opponents of Ballot Measure #8 believe that doctors shouldn't be able to recommend medical marijuana for any medical conditions. However doctors are currently allowed to prescribe morphine and even cocaine. Shouldn't we trust them to recommend a less dangerous substance like medical marijuana?

Yes On #8 Is A Humane Policy For Alaskans Suffering Extreme Pain. Alaska law should show compassion for people who suffer severe medical conditions. Yet while polls show most Alaskans support the medical use of marijuana, both patients and doctors are now subject to prosecution for using or even recommending it. Please vote to join the 24 other states that have adopted a policy of compassion.

Please Vote YES On Ballot Measure #8

Alaskans for Medical Rights
M. Walter Johnson, MD; Arndt von Hippel, MD; Frederick J. Hillman, MD
(907) 277-AKMR


STATEMENT IN OPPOSITION

Marijuana is a debilitating illegal drug. In 1990 the citizens of Alaska voted to "recriminalize" the use of marijuana. Now, at a time when illegal drug use is destroying the very foundation of our Nation and this great State - the family unit - this Act is attempting to legalize marijuana as a "medicine."

This inept Act allows the "patients" and "care-givers" to grow their own "pot." The Act has no provisions to protect against impurities from "street grass." The Act then attempts to hold patients and care-givers, as well as physicians, "harmless" from the use of marijuana. The Act is a license to grow, use, transport and sell marijuana. It is a bad law.

Dronabinol (marinol) is an approved, controlled drug that is the principal "psychoactive" substance in marijuana. Physicians prescribe dronabinol for symptoms ranging from nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy to anorexia in AIDS patients. Due to the "psychoactive" affects of dronabinol, patient supervision, if possible in an inpatient setting is required. Marijuana is no substitute.

The legalizing of street-grade marijuana, grown by its drug-user patients and care-givers, as allowed by this Act borders on "pure folly." What physician would prescribe an illegal drug to patients when there are no quality controls on the purity of the drug? No physician can ignore a basic tenant of medical practice: "Quality care in the best interest of the patient."

This Act is attempting to deceive Alaskans into thinking we are voting for compassion of those having "debilitating" illnesses. The Act is attempting to use the sick, infirm and dying to pry open the door to drug legalization. From 1991 to 1996 marijuana use nationwide among eighth graders tripled from 6% to 18%. Any legalization of marijuana sends the wrong message to the youth of Alaska. Marijuana is the gateway drug to cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. As a result, this Act is opposed by local, state and federal law enforcement officers.

The use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, leads to lack of individual self respect, as well as lack of respect of others and society in general. Ultimately, marijuana and other illegal drugs destroy an individual's mind, as well as the "soul." Since marijuana users are not able to distinguish between "right from wrong" the burden of use of illegal drugs is ultimately placed on each of us individually and society as a whole.

Legalization of marijuana tells our youth that adults believe illegal drugs can be used responsibly. Within that atmosphere it is very difficult, if not impossible, to reach our youth and convince them that "doing drugs is bad." The youth of Alaska need our support.

Do not be fooled, this Act is not about compassion or care for the sick, infirm and dying. The Act is an attempt to protect those who grow, transport, distribute, sell, possess or use marijuana. Please vote against this Act.

Wevley William Shea
Anchorage
(907) 274-0020


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