PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona voters were literally split evenly on the issue of allowing marijuana use for medical purposes, leaving the proposition far too close to call.
Proposition 203, which would allow those with serious, chronic illness to obtain 2½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks or grow 12 marijuana plants, was failing early Wednesday but by a margin that had dwindled to fewer than 5,000 votes out of 1.3 million cast.
There was no clear theme to the outcome of the 10 propositions on the state ballot, with voters approving measures that defy the federal health care plan and reject affirmative action, but turning down a proposal to make hunting and fishing a constitutional right.
Voters rejected Proposition 302, which would have eliminated an array of early childhood services under the First Things First program that is funded by tobacco tax revenue. The money would have been redirected to the state's general fund, where the Legislature could use it as it saw fit in dealing with Arizona's severe budget woes.
It would have immediately transferred $325 million from First Things First, which was created by Arizona voters in 2006.
"First Things First appreciates this show of confidence from Arizona voters and their continued commitment to our youngest kid," First Things First board chairman Steven Lynn said in a statement released by the organization. "We will continue in our mission to ensure that all Arizona kids have the tools they need to start kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed."
Voters also rejected a similar measure, Proposition 301, that would have shifted money from a voter-protected conservation fund to the general fund.
It was the fourth time the state had put the marijuana issue to a vote. Proposals in 1996 and 1998 were approved but a problem with the wording blocked their enactment. In 2002, a far more sweeping proposal to decriminalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for any purpose was rejected.
About 55 percent of voters approved Proposition 106, which defies the new federal health care plan with an amendment to the state constitution.
The amendment prohibits forced participation in health care plans, but opponents have said it will have no impact because courts will rule that federal law trumps anything passed by state voters.
The author of the proposition, Dr. Eric Novack, said passage of the measure sends a "crystal clear" message.
"The people of Arizona believe that health care reforms must not violate freedoms we all hold dear," he said in a statement, "that health care decisions must ultimately belong in the hands of patients and families, not politicians and their pals."
The amendment prohibits requiring a person or employer to participate in a health care system. It bans penalties against patients or businesses who pay for health care services on their own.
The health care plan approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama this spring requires almost everyone to be insured or pay a fine. That aspect of the law takes effect in 2014.
Proposition 107, the anti-affirmative action measure, was approved by a wide margin.
It bans state and local governments from discrimination and preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity and sex. However, the measure provides what could be a broad exception for "bona fide" qualifications based on sex and for a preference or program whose elimination would violate a court order or lead to the loss of federal funds.
Voters also approved Proposition 113, an amendment to the Arizona Constitution that guarantees the right of a secret ballot for employees deciding whether to be represented by unions.
The immediate effect is minimal because employers already can demand a secret ballot in such votes.
Proposition 109, which would have made hunting and fishing a constitutionally guaranteed right, went down despite the support of Gov. Jan Brewer, the state Game and Fish Commission and the National Rifle Association.
There will be no lieutenant governor in Arizona.
Voters rejected Proposition 111, which would have renamed the office of secretary of state to lieutenant governor. It also would have required each political party to have candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run on one ticket and be voted into office together.
Nov 3, 2010 10:08pm
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