Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 3, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Medical Marijuana


  • An initiative that would legalize medical marijuana has qualified for the ballot. Andrew Myers of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project will discuss the measure.
Guests:
  • Andrew Myers - Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: medical marijuana, marijuana,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," a medical marijuana initiative qualifies for the November ballot. We'll hear from backers of the measure. A local research group puts out a paper debunking myths about illegal immigration. We'll tell you what they found. And gas prices are actually going down during the summer driving months. Even with the big oil leek in the Gulf of Mexico. We'll take a closer look at gas prices, coming up next on "Horizon."

Welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Governor Brewer met with President Obama today to talk about illegal immigration. The governor said the half hour meeting at the White House was cordial and that she and the president agreed to work on opening up lines of communication. The governor also said that the president told her that most of the 1200 National Guard troops he plans to send to the border will likely go to Arizona. The president did not address the idea of a federal suit against Arizona's new immigration law, except to say that such a decision will be up to the justice department.

The city of Mesa today announced a new financing plan for a spring training complex to keep the cubs from moving to Florida. The city will ask Mesa voters in November to approve an increase in the city's bed tax for hotels and to allow special funds from golf course and other facilities to pay for the new complex. The city could also sell land it has in Pinal county to help fund the $84 million plan.

Arizona medical marijuana policy project turned in enough valid signatures this week to get a medical marijuana measure on the November ballot. Here to talk about the measure and its new name, it's likely new name, proposition 203, is Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona medical marijuana policy project. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Andrew Myers:
Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons:
Why the need to legalize medical marijuana, or let's just to use marijuana for medicinal purposes?

Andrew Myers:
Well, the reason there's a need for the law, there are already thousands of patients across Arizona who are already using marijuana with their doctor's recommendation. Seriously and terminally ill patients. Right now they face a terrible choice. They have to continue to suffer with a debilitating medical condition or go to the criminal market and acquire a product they don't know where it came from, what's in it, and ultimately they realize they may be financing violent criminals. In addition to subjecting themselves to arrest and prosecution. This is a cruel and unnecessary policy and something that needs to be changed.

Ted Simons:
how does this initiative differ from past measures? We've seen these things come and go.

Andrew Myers:
It's a night and day difference. Arizona passed their first medical marijuana law in 1996, the same year California passed their law. It would have been the first law in the country had gone into effect in 1996. That law didn't really have any statewide regulation in place. So -- and it was similar to the law that California enacted. We've seen California's issues since they passed the law in 1996. We've learned a lot about how to draft medical marijuana bills, and 14 years later we're able to put together a complete initiative that will serve the needs of patients while not affecting the community in a negative fashion.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk about the measure and what qualifies as -- constitutes as a qualified patient.

Andrew Myers:
We're talking about seriously and terminally ill patients. People with conditions like cancer, HIV aids, Parkinson's disease, serious conditions. There are three main symptoms that marijuana has been shown in clinical studies to safely and effectively treat. The first one is nausea. Most often times associated with chemotherapy treatment. The second is neuropathy, pain caused from nerve damage. And the third is tremors. So a lot of our conditions that we outline within the initiative stem from those symptoms.

Ted Simons:
But I got a backache, someone broke their hand, how far does it do?

Andrew Myers:
It doesn't go that far at all. No. You need to be a seriously ill patient. There is a pain provision included within the initiative, but it's the type of pain you would be on opiate based pain killers for. So we want to provide a safer and more sustainable treatment option for those types of severe and chronic pain patients. But we're not talking about someone who has a toothache or a backache. This is not California.

Ted Simons:
OK. So we find out what constitutes the qualified patient. What about a caregiver? The caregiver would be allowed to procure the marijuana. Correct?

Andrew Myers:
Right. Many of these patients are going to be very ill. And will have a difficult time leaving their home. The initiative allows that patient to appoint someone to act as a proxy for them to be able to go to a dispensary and require medication.

Ted Simons:
And they would have access to marijuana. What qualifies as access? What does that mean?

Andrew Myers:
Well, if a physician believes that one of their patients would benefit from of marijuana, and they qualify with one of the conditions as outlined within the initiative, the patient and the physician will apply jointly to the Arizona department of health Services, and then the patient will be issued an identification card. That patient will be able to access or the caregiver, will be able to access the dispensary.

Ted Simons:
The department of health clinic services regulates the process? What’s going on here?

Andrew Myers:
The department of health Serviceless regulate the entire process. The clinics, the application process, and issue the identification cards.

Ted Simons:
Where does the marijuana come from?

Andrew Myers:
The dispensaries have to cultivate it, or there's a provision within the law, if a patient lives within 25 miles within a registered dispensary they can cultivate a limited number their own plants.

Ted Simons:
here do you come from, and how much is being funded by this group?

Andrew Myers:
WellI'm the campaign manager for the project, which is the Arizona-based campaign committee. We have a sponsor called the marijuana policy project, they're out of Washington, DC. They sponsored many medical marijuana initiatives across the country. They're a membership-based organization, they have 30,000 dues paying members nationally. So in a way, we're getting the money wove been putting into the organization back here in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
So the group is pushing for this. We're going to get critics, and they're going to basically say, we'll have them on the show, they're basically going to say this is a back door attempt to decriminalize marijuana. How do you respond?

Andrew Myers:
It's not that at all. Arizonans don't support the idea of decriminalizing marijuana. We polled on that question when we polled on medical marijuana. 65% of Arizonans support medical marijuana. Only 23% support full legalization of marijuana. So voters know what they're voting on. They understand the difference between medical use and recreational use. And almost half the electorate supports one and not the other. So we believe that voters can study an issue, see what's in front of them, make an informed decision and the question of legalization is something different.

Ted Simons:
But the question of safeguards to make sure the caregiver is proper to make sure patient really needs this particular medication, those you think are addressed in the initiative?

Andrew Myers:
Absolutely. That's why our initiative is so long. We were very sensitive to the issues that have kept up in other states that haven't had as complete of a law when it went into effect at first. And California still lacks a system of statewide regulation. That's an experience we didn't want to repeat in Arizona. And we're convinced that we have done everything that we can to make sure that we're going to have a tightly regulated program that will help patients, but will not have a negative impact on the community.

Ted Simons:
There are, I don't know, two, maybe at least well-known synthetic forms of marijuana in pill form, medication form, these sorts of things, that critics of this bill will say, if that's what you need, you can already get that. That's what you got. Why do you have to have marijuana, why do you have to smoke it?

Andrew Myers:
Because if you talk to patients or physicians, MARiNOL is one of the medications you're referring to. Marinol is just not effective anti-nausea medication. And it's a pill, it takes more than a half an hour to take effect, which is not good for an antinausea med, and getting the dosing correct is difficult. Many times it's not strong enough or way too strong, which is an even less desirable outcome. What we're providing is a direct natural alternative, something that's easier to get the dosing right and that patients respond better to.

Ted Simons:
Last point, 2½ ounces every two weeks with a doctor's recommendation. A doctor, your doctor, whose doctor?

Andrew Myers:
A licensed physician in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
So not necessarily your doctor.

Andrew Myers:
Not necessarily your doctor.

Ted Simons:
Is that a problem?

Andrew Myers:
No, I don't think so. I think we have physicians across the -- physicians across the state already prescribe controlled substances on a regular basis. What we're talking about is something that's less dangerous than many of the substances they're already prescribing. And ultimately we have to trust physicians to make sure that they are only dispensing and prescribing medications to patients who need them.

Ted Simons:
All right. Andrew, good to have you here.

Andrew Myers:
Thanks so much.

What's on?
  About KAET Contact Support Legal Follow Us  
  About Eight
Mission/Impact
History
Site Map
Pressroom
Contact Us
Sign up for e-news
Pledge to Eight
Donate Monthly
Volunteer
Other ways to support
FCC Public Files
Privacy Policy
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Google+
Pinterest
 

Need help accessing? Contact disabilityaccess@asu.edu

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University    Copyright Arizona Board of Regents