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 had laws on the books that allowed the use of marijuana for the terminally ill and of a cannabis-derived drug for epilepsy.
North Dakota: According to the Bismark Tribune, “The measure will allow people to possess up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana for treatment of up to nearly a dozen medical conditions. Facilities for medical marijuana distribution will be licensed by the state Health Department and operated by nonprofit organizations.”
Montana: The Independent Record in Helena reported that the measure means that “providers of the drug will not be limited to the number of patients they can serve:”
“The previous restriction imposed a limit of three, which was sharply opposed by patients and providers in the program. Most medical marijuana patients were left without a registered provider under the restrictions. Since they went into effect, patients have left the program. More than a third of patients registered in September left over the next month — 7,785 remained in October, according to the state health department.“I-182 adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of eligible conditions, allows for lab testing for marijuana and orders annual health department inspections of providers.”
Arkansas: The measure allows people who have any of 18 qualifying conditions — such as cancer, glaucoma, Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease and hepatitis C — to access dispensaries. According to the Associated Press and KTHV, “some political leaders said they preferred that Arkansas legislators instead allow a version of the drug that is low in THC, which gives marijuana its high.”