Is the greatest burden that the effort to legalize marijuana for medical uses faces one of perception? An ABC news article examines that question. Are Representatives and Senators hesitant to vote on this issue because of concerns about their image? To make this point, ABC mentions processes that have taken the decision out of politician's hands:
So NORML has appealed directly to voters to overcome the congressional gridlock. Via the initiative and referendum process, nine states have approved the legalization of medicinal marijuana and 12 states have passed laws that decriminalize the responsible possession and consumption of pot — turning what was previously an arrestable offense into a ticketable misdemeanor.What I find interesting about this look at medical uses of marijuana isn't so much the arguments over whether or not it should be legal, but rather the initiative and referendum processes. The Initiative and Referendum Institute is one organization that is trying to share more information on how these processes work, and their site makes for some good reading.
States passing medicinal exceptions include California and Arizona in 1996, Alaska, Washington and Oregon in 1998, Maine in 1999, Colorado and Nevada in 2000, and Hawaii in the last legislative year.
The 12 decriminalized states are California, Arizona, Alaska, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Maine, Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado and Mississippi, with bills in the works in Vermont and New Hampshire.