Arizona’s ballot measure to legalize marijuana passed Tuesday with voters deciding to join 11 other states that have done so despite a conflict with federal law, according to The Associated Press.
Proposition 207 would legalize possession of as much as an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older and set up a licensing system for retail sales of the drug, starting with the medical-marijuana dispensaries already operating in the state. Sales could begin in March under the measure.
Once the election results are made official Nov. 30, possession and growing as many as six plants at home will be legal for adults.
The measure also would allow people previously convicted of marijuana crimes, such as the felony charge for possession, to have their records expunged by the courts.
And it would establish special “social equity” licenses for communities historically disenfranchised by marijuana laws.
SEE THE WINNERS: Arizona election results
The Department of Health Services would be responsible for determining who is eligible to apply for those social equity licenses, and would also be responsible for developing rules for the program and reviewing applications from medical dispensaries.
The approximately 120 medical-marijuana dispensaries operating in the state today, which have provided nearly all of the funding for Proposition 207, would be allowed to sell the drug to anyone over 21, not just people who have a doctor’s recommendation and state-issued medical-marijuana card.
Dispensaries are anticipating a crush of new business. The Mint Dispensaries, for example, are prepared to expedite the construction of a new, $25 million, 100,000-square-foot growing operation in north Phoenix to keep their Guadalupe and Mesa retail sites stocked if Proposition 207 passes.
The Mint also already has approval from Mesa to expand its dispensary there as well, and can add additional registers in the Guadalupe store beyond the 21 in the store now, said Raúl Molina, a partner and senior vice president of operations.
“We think we’re ready for it,” Molina said before Election Day.
Company officials do not want to run out of marijuana for medical patients or be left with no supply for recreational customers, which has happened in other states that transitioned from medical to recreational sales.
A similar measure also passed in New Jersey on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, while recreational-marijuana initiatives were leading in early results in Montana and South Dakota as well.
Backers, opponents react to election
Attorney Adam Trenk, director of the Cannabis Department at the Rose Law Group, said nearly all medical dispensaries are expected to apply to sell recreational marijuana.
“I can’t imagine a world where they wouldn’t because they immediately expand the demographic of people who can walk into the store from just those with (medical-marijuana) cards to anyone over the age of 21,” Trenk said.
He also said his firm would help clients, including some through pro bono work, to expunge criminal records for marijuana-related crimes as allowed through the measure.
“We will, through community law centers, work to help those who qualify to get
A $100-million effort to impose new regulations on the dialysis industry appeared to be heading for defeat in early results Tuesday.
Proposition 23 would require dialysis clinics to employ at least one doctor who would be on site whenever patients are receiving treatment. Supporters of the measure, including the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, said dialysis clinics were putting profits over patient care by not having a doctor available in the event of complications or an emergency.
Opponents, however, argued the measure was the latest attempt by SEIU-UHW to weaponize the ballot box to try to force the dialysis industry to spend millions to defend itself when the union’s real interest is getting clinic workers to unionize. The dialysis industry put more than $100 million into fighting the measure, saying the unnecessary added cost would lead to dialysis clinics closing, which would put patients at risk.
In California, there are roughly 600 dialysis clinics treating thousands of people suffering from kidney failure with machines that remove a patient’s blood and filter it to remove waste and excess fluids before returning the blood to their body. Patients typically require dialysis three days a week for about four hours a day in order to live. Due to the high demand for dialysis, clinic operators say they are typically open six days a week for up to 16 hours a day.
In addition to having a doctor on site at all times, Proposition 23 would require clinics to report dialysis infection information to the California Department of Public Health every three months, which would be posted on the state agency’s website. Clinics could face a fine of up to $100,000 for failing to report the data or reporting inaccurate information.
Clinics are currently required to report dialysis infection-related information to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The measure would also require clinics to obtain approval from the state’s public health department before closing or substantially reducing services. Proposition 23 would bar clinics from refusing access to a patient based on their insurance.
Most people on dialysis in California are covered by Medicare, which extends coverage to people with kidney failure regardless of age or disability status.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
California Prop 14 may change lives of sick kids, keep taxpayer funding of stem cell therapy research
Three-year-old Ava was constantly sick. Her gums were inflamed, and every time she got a scraped knee, it turned into a dangerous infection.
Her parents, Alicia and Jon Langenhop, were months pregnant with their third child when they learned that Ava’s constellation of symptoms added up to an extremely rare, inherited disorder of the white blood cells, called leukocyte adhesion deficiency-1. Although antibiotics and antivirals could prolong her life, the disease was considered fatal, usually before kindergarten.
Ava’s primary hope, doctors told the Langenhops, was a bone marrow transplant from someone who was a good match, probably a brother or a sister.
Two-year-old Olivia had inherited the same disease as her big sister. She had been hospitalized with infections, too.
The baby in Alicia’s belly would be the girls’ best hope. Since both parents were carriers of the rare genetic mutation, the new baby, a boy, had a 25% chance of inheriting it, too.
Alicia was still in the hospital last October when they found out baby Landon had the mutation. Around the same time, the couple learned of a research trial in California.
Doctors would take each child’s blood cells, fix the mutation and return them. It should be a permanent fix, with less risk than a bone marrow transplant because the healthy cells would be their own, so their bodies wouldn’t reject them as foreign.
The approach had been tried in only one child, though.
This is the type of research reaching patients nearly two decades after President George W. Bush banned federal funding of stem cell research and 16 years after California residents approved a tax increase on themselves to support research.
Proposition 14 on Tuesday’s ballot asks whether Californians want to continue this work, providing $5.5 billion for stem cell research over the next three decades.
In the early 2000s, stem cell research was controversial because it often required the destruction of human embryos. Though embryonic stem cells remain essential for some therapies, in cases such as the Langenhops’, treatment focuses on manipulating a person’s own cells.
Stem cell science has made tremendous progress, but as in most new fields, the pace remains painstakingly slow. Every treatment has to be the subject of years of trial-and-error research, and many scientific hurdles linger.
Stem cells have been used to treat rare diseases, such as severe combined immunodeficiency, also known as “bubble boy disease,” and they are being tested in more common conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, Type 1 diabetes and even heart disease.
“Even if a subset of stuff in the pipeline goes all the way, it will change the world for patients who currently don’t have other good options,” said Sean Morrison, a stem cell biologist in Dallas.
“It’s a pivotal time in the field,” said