UPDATE: Arizona voters have approved a measure that will legalize medical marijuana use in the state for people with chronic or debilitating diseases.
Final vote tallies showed Saturday that Proposition 203 won by a tiny margin of just 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million votes counted. The measure had started out losing on Election Day by about 7,200 votes, but the gap gradually narrowed in the following 10 days.
“Now begins the very hard work of implementing this program in the way it was envisioned, with very high standards,” said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project. “We really believe that we have an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the country on what a good medical marijuana program looks like.”
Arizona is the 15th state to approve a medical marijuana law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states and Washington, D.C., have since followed suit.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
A measure that would legalize medical marijuana in Arizona pulled ahead for the first time Friday, with both supporters and opponents saying they believed the proposal that went before voters on Election Day would pass.
Proposition 203 was ahead by 4,421 votes out of more than 1.63 million votes counted. The measure started out losing by about 7,200 votes on Nov. 2 and the gap gradually narrowed in the following 10 days.
Only about 10,000 early and provisional ballots remain to be counted in the state, and all are in Maricopa County.
If the measure passes, Arizona would be the 15th state with a medical marijuana law.
“We were optimistic that this is what the result was going to be today, and we’re thrilled that it came to reality,” said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project. “Moving forward it’s our responsibility to help implement a program that Arizona can be proud of.”
Opponents of the initiative, including all Arizona’s sheriff’s and county prosecutors, the governor, attorney general, and many other politicians, came out against the proposed law.
“All of the political leaders came out and warned Arizonans that this was going to have very dire effects on a number of levels,” said Carolyn Short, chairwoman of Keep AZ Drug Free, the group that organized opposition to the initiative. “I don’t think that all Arizonans have heard those dire predictions.
“Election night and this entire week has been a very exciting time for us — we just didn’t know we had actually lost,” Short said. “I am incredibly proud of our small but dedicated army of volunteers who worked very, very hard for months to educate voters about Prop 203.”
Backers of Proposition 203 argued that thousands of patients faced “a terrible choice” of suffering with a serious or even terminal illness or going to the criminal market for pot. They collected more than 252,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot — nearly 100,000 more than required.
The measure will allow patients with diseases including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and any other “chronic or debilitating” disease that meets guidelines to buy more 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks or grow plants.
The patients must get a recommendation from their doctor and register with the Arizona Department of Health Services. The law also allows for no more than 124 marijuana dispensaries in the state.
“Our law is written to be incredibly restrictive. We’re talking only about seriously or terminally ill patients,” Myers said. “There are 14 medical marijuana states, and for political reasons they decided to narrow in on (problems in) California because they don’t believe that marijuana is medicine at all.”
The measure began Friday losing by about 1,500 votes.
The vast majority of outstanding votes were in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, on Friday morning. About 30,000 provisional ballots during the day, and those went heavily for medical marijuana backers. The county also processed 5,024 early ballots.
Maricopa County has 8,000 early and 2,000 provisional ballots still to count, and all other counties have finished their counts. Outstanding ballots will be counted through the weekend despite a state law that generally says all vote tallying must be completed by Friday.
Teams made up of members of the Republican and Democratic parties are overseeing elections workers tasked with reviewing the early ballot. Those ballots have some problem that prevents a vote-count machine from tallying them, typically because a voter used a marker to fill in the oval and it bled through to the other side or otherwise is unreadable.
The teams are examining the ballots, determining voter intent and filling out new ballots that the machine can read, Purcell said.
Mochila insert follows…
Trump teases he may not have a peaceful transfer of power if he loses
President Donald Trump was aghast when he was asked in the presidential debates if he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power.
The moment in the debate came when he dodged the question for weeks, refusing to agree to the long-standing tradition of presidents handing over the reins to the next leader.
"Well, we'll have to see what happens," Trump told reporters during a White House news conference. "You know that."
After weeks of bad press about it, Trump said he would agree to it.
"They spied heavily on my campaign and they tried to take down a duly elected sitting president, and then they talk about 'will you accept a peaceful transfer?' And the answer is, yes, I will, but I want it to be an honest election and so does everybody else," Trump said, adding, "When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can and they happen to have my name on it, I'm not happy about it."
‘Jarring’: PA Trump fans attack polls making so much noise poll workers couldn’t read instructions to voters
One Pennsylvania polling place fell under a full out attack on those standing in line to vote and trying to cast a ballot on Saturday.
In a Twitter thread, Behavioral Economist Alex Imas explained that while he was casting his ballot on the outskirts of Philadelphia County, PA Saturday, a parade of semis and other cars surrounded the polling place, laying on their horns.
"I arrived just as polling place opened. Short line. Thought I'd be in and out in 20 minutes tops. Even w/ this short line, it took 2+ hours," he explained.
"Then the next Semi followed, then the 3rd," he continued. "A motorcade of semis, jeeps, and a few sedans drove down the road. All honking. All flying Trump 2020 flags. With people yelling out the window. This motorcade snaked around the polling place the entire time I was there (2 hrs)."
Trump gives 9/11 first responders back the $3.3 million he took from health fund: GOP Congressman
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Rep. Peter King (R-NY) announced that the 9/11 first responders would get the $3.3 million back that President Donald Trump stole from the program that helped them with medical treatments.
Those at the Twin Towers site in the days following the terrorist attacks breathed in a series of toxic gasses and asbestosis, leading them to have a slew of health problems years later. A fund was set up to ensure that those heroes were always taken care of for the rest of their lives as they suffered through their final years.
“It’s a great victory for really deserving people,” King told the New York Daily News Saturday. "I mean this just never should have happened, but we fought hard, we got it done."