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Medical marijuana back on Az ballot


Arizona voters will yet again have a chance to decide if people with certain medical conditions can legally use marijuana.

The latest medical marijuana initiative will appear on November's ballot, the Secretary of State's office confirmed Tuesday.

This will be the fourth time in 15 years that a medical pot measure has been put to voters. Arizonans approved medical marijuana twice before, but neither took effect because of problems in the wording of the measures.

A 2002 fix to the medical pot law was rejected because it was too broadly worded.

The latest measure would allow doctors to recommend that patients with specific conditions, including AIDS, chemotherapy side effects and chronic pain, be able to use marijuana.

A recommendation would enable patients to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from a state-regulated dispensary. If they live more than 25 miles from a dispensary, patients would be able to grown their own pot.

There would be up to 120 dispensaries, which would be subject to zoning regulations to keep them away from schools.

This is Arizona's first voter-driven marijuana initiative to qualify for the ballot. The push is being financed by the national Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbies for decriminalization of pot possession.

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The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project collected 252,000 signatures asking for a vote on the law. 153,365 were needed to qualify for the ballot.

The law would differ from those of other states, such as California, that allow doctors to recommend marijuana for any condition.

Arizona's first medical marijuana law was approved in 1996, but tossed out by the legislature.

A second initiative was approved in 1998, but language allowing doctors to "prescribe" pot instead of "recommend" it essentially invalidated the law. Doctors who prescribed marijuana would have their ability to write any prescriptions taken away, said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

A 2002 measure that would allow doctors to recommend, instead of prescribe marijuana, was defeated. It would have decriminalized pot possession for everyone, with the fine for having 2 ounces set at $250. It also would have compelled the state to supply patients with marijuana from drugs seized by law enforcement.

14 states and the District of Columbia now have some form of medical marijuana laws.

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A medical marijuana supplier in West Hollywood, Calif.