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Senate OKs medical marijuana tax

Senators voted March 25 to tax the sale of marijuana, anticipating that the public will approve its use for medical reasons this November.

But several conservative Republicans balked at the measure, arguing that other medicines aren’t taxed.

“I’m hoping that the ballot measure doesn’t pass, but if it does and if it’s truly about medical marijuana, we don’t tax any other medicine,” said Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican from Mesa. “We ought to be consistent in our tax policy in our state.”

But other lawmakers who dislike the idea of legalizing marijuana – but believe voters will approve its use for medical purposes – said taxing it would lessen its use.

“One thing I know of is that when you tax something, less of it happens and I want less of this to happen,” Sen. John Huppenthal, a Republican from Chandler, said of his support for S1222, which the Senate approved by a 17-12 vote.

Senate Minority Leader Jorge Garcia, the bill’s sponsor, said he fears that pot would destroy many families in communities he represents.

“But I recognize the realities,” the Tucson Democrat said. “The same initiative that is going to be before us in November has passed at least two times before. It will pass again.”

Voters in the 1990s twice approved the decriminalization of medical marijuana.

A 1996 measure, which passed with about 65 percent of the vote, still exists on the books. The law, though, is little more than symbolic due to a drafting error.

In 1997, the Legislature overturned the initiative supported the year before, but a referendum in 1998 reinstated the measure.
But Sen. Ron Gould, a Lake Havasu Republican, said the legislation should have been subject to the requirements of Proposition 108, the ballot initiative that requires a two-thirds vote for any act that results in a “net increase” in state revenues.

Garcia’s S1222 will exclude medical marijuana from exemptions to the state’s sales tax.

In its fiscal analysis of the bill, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee has noted that if medical marijuana were legal, it could be interpreted to fall under the tax exempt category for drugs and medical supplies.

The bill is conditional on the enactment of the “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act” ballot initiative this November.

Supporters of the initiative, which was proposed by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, are currently collecting signatures to put it on the ballot.

If the measure passes, people diagnosed with cancer, AIDS, HIV, Alzheimer’s, Hepatitis C and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, would qualify for protection under state law.

Other people who would be permitted to use marijuana include those suffering from glaucoma and patients with “debilitating medical conditions” brought on by diseases or treatments that cause severe and chronic pain, nausea, seizures, muscle spasms and severe loss of muscle mass.

To obtain marijuana legally, patients would need a recommendation from a doctor and consent from the state Department of Health Services.

Doctors would be required to conduct a full patient examination and medical history assessment before issuing recommendations for marijuana.

The Department of Health Services also would be required to operate a computer system to track licensing of patients and designated caregivers. The department also would be charged with registering owners and employees of dispensaries. The database would be available to law enforcement agencies and dispensaries.

Medical marijuana users would be permitted to keep as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time. Licensed caregivers would be free to grow as many as 12 marijuana plants.

The possession mandates under the proposal would put Arizona roughly in the middle of the pack, compared to restrictions in other states.

8 comments

  1. Please make sure to get the word out to every person you know and explain the benfits as the TV news has done a poor job of it. They need to hear the truth. I am totally disabled with diseases and severe chronic pain that I pray for this daily. I’d like to stop having the heavy-duty opiates eat up my insides. My doctor is in full agreement with MMJ and said every oncologist she knows also wishes they could give it to their patients as well. Can November come too soon? Too bad they messed it up years ago – let’s make sure this is to the letter this time! Even if they tax it, it will be cheaper than the Big Pharma companies and a nice, healthy natural plant, non-addictive and without side effects – just relief for once!

  2. Kimberly: You can get pot if you need to. It’s everywhere. Don’t wait for this to pass. It sounds like it would really help you.

  3. Kimberly,

    It’s true…Very easy to get.

  4. Leonard Krivitsky, MD, DD

    I worked for years in drug addiction clinics of Philadelphia, and I have seen hundreds of cases of severe physical dependence on pain-killer opiates as well as all kinds of “nerve” and “sleeping” pills. This kind of severe dependence is accompanied by a pronounced withdrawal syndrome – including seizures, vomiting, terrible bone pain, loose bowels – you name it. An overdose with any of these substances can easily lead to death. The CNN reported a couple of days ago that thousands of our veterans are dependent on all kinds of prescription narcotic drugs while the VA Administration stubbornly refuses to utilize medical marijuana, even though it would be very helpful in many cases, and even in the States where it is legal. Canada, on the other hand, even pays for medical marijuana for its veterans. It is worth repeating (for the millionth time) that marijuana is immeasurably safer than alcohol.
    During my years as an addiction medicine physician I have never seen a case of marijuana overdose, or even a physical withdrawal associated with its use, and the only very rare cases of “marijuana addiction” were those “referred” by the Parole or Probation department after a person failed the drug test. I cannot possibly say this better than the following quote:
    ” Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal.” – Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006

  5. the weed may be better then all the other treatments but it is better still after you know that and then cant get it and then have to try every drug known to man to replace it and know for sure that they cant and then when you get the weed again forever you wont even think about trying any other treatments. this could be the same circumstances with relations with women but women are too expensive i am not trading a house for bjs. tiger woods can afford to do things the right way. why do people need laws to do things the wrong way. Lazer disk.

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