Ballot Measure 8
Bill Allowing Medical Use of Marijuana
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?
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:
(1) the original or a copy of the written
documentation stating that the patient has been diagnosed
with a debilitating medical condition and the
physician's conclusion that the patient might benefit
from the medical use of marijuana;
(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:
(2) the name, address, date of birth, and
social security number of the patient;
(3) the name, address, and telephone number
of the patient's physician; and
(4) the name and address of the patient's
primary care-giver, if one is designated
at the time of application.
(1) the patient's name, address, date of birth, and
social security number;
(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.
(2) that the patient's name has been certified to
the state health agency as a person who has a
debilitating medical condition which the patient
may address with the medical use of marijuana;
(3) the dates of issuance and expiration of the
registry identification card; and
(4) the name and address of the patient's primary
care-giver, if any is designated at the time of application.
(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:
(1) no more than one ounce of marijuana in
usable form; and
(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.
(2) no more than six marijuana plants, with
no more than three mature and flowering plants
producing usable marijuana at any one time.
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:
(1) the patient was diagnosed by a physician as having
a debilitating medical condition;
(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.
(2) the patient was advised by his or her physician,
in the context of a bona fide physician-patient
relationship, that the patient might benefit from
the medical use of marijuana in connection with a
debilitating medical condition; and
(3) the patient and his or her primary care-giver
were collectively in possession of amounts of marijuana
only as permitted under this section.
(c) No physician shall be subject to any penalty, including
arrest, prosecution, disciplinary proceeding, or be denied
any right or privilege, for:
(1) Advising a patient whom the physician has diagnosed as
having a debilitating medical condition, about the risks and
benefits of medical use of marijuana or that he or she might
benefit from the medical use of marijuana, provided that such advice
is based upon the physician's contemporaneous assessment of the
patient's medical history and current medical condition
and a bona fide physician-patient relationship; or
(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.
(2) Providing a patient with a written documentation,
based upon the physician's contemporaneous assessment of the patient's
medical history and current medical condition and a bona fide
physician-patient relationship stating that the patient
has a debilitating medical condition and might benefit from the
medical use of marijuana.
(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:
(1) engage in the medical use of marijuana
in a way that endangers the health or well-being
of any person;
(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.
(2) engage in the medical use of marijuana in
plain view of, or in a place open to, the general public; or
(3) sell or distribute marijuana to any person
who is known to the patient not to be either in
lawful possession of a registry identification
card or eligible for such card.
(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:
(1) in any place of employment;
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;
(2) in any correctional facility;
(3) on or within 500 feet of school grounds;
(4) at or within 500 feet of a recreation or youth center; or
(5) on a school bus.
(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:
(1) cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human
immunodeficiency virus, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome,
or treatment for any of these conditions;
(c) "Department" means the Department of Health
and Social Services;
(2) any chronic or debilitating disease or treatment
for such diseases, which produces, for a specific patient, one
or more of the following, and for which, in the professional
opinion of the patient's physician, such condition or conditions
reasonably may be alleviated by the medical use
of marijuana: cachexia; severe pain; severe nausea;
seizures, including those that are characteristic of
epilepsy; or persistent muscle spasms, including those that are
characteristic of multiple sclerosis; or
(3) any other medical condition, or treatment for such
condition, approved by the Department, pursuant to its
authority to promulgate regulations or its approval of any petition
submitted by a patient or physician under AS 17.35.060.
(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
(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
(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
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
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
Alaska Division of Elections Home Page
1998 Official Election
Pamphlet Introduction Page