Medical marijuana victories in Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas, Montana turn the tide – Washington Post
Cured and finished buds as well as growing medical marijuana plants propagated at a medical marijuana growing operation in Washington in September. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Tuesday was a banner night for medical marijuana — with ballot initiatives in numerous states widening access to the substance for Americans seeking relief from pain or a treatment for illness.
Massachusetts and California, where Napster co-founder and cancer philanthropist Sean Parker helped fund a campaign to legalize the drug, were among the states passing new recreational marijuana laws. The tide also turned in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas — where similar measures were defeated in the past — and in Montana where measures regarding medical marijuana were passed. Before this week, medical marijuana was legal in a little over half the country or 25 states.
The wins come as rigorous scientific evidence is mounting that marijuana or its components may have beneficial medical effects. Earlier this year, GW Pharmaceuticals said that clinical trials show a cannabis-derived drug may be able to reduce seizures in patients with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy. Physicians are also increasingly looking to marijuana as an alternative to highly addictive opioids that have led to a crisis in overdoses. This chart, from my colleague Christopher Ingraham, shows just how dramatic the difference in the painkiller prescriptions is in medical-marijuana states vs. non-medical-marijuana states.
Here’s a closer look at the medical marijuana measures passed Tuesday night:
Florida: A similar measure was narrowly defeated two years ago. This time, voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favor of a full-scale medical marijuana program. The new amendment states that patients with illnesses of the “same kind or class as or comparable to” serious illnesses, such as cancer, HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy would be eligible to access medical marijuana. Some 450,000 residents would qualify, according to The News-Press in Fort Myers. The state already