Medical marijuana wins some, loses some at ballot box

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Supporters of medical marijuana were left holding a mixed bag after Election Day last week. South Dakota and Oregon voters gave a big “no” to ballot issues seeking to relax its regulation, while the outcome of a vote on it in Arizona remained too close to call three days after the fact. Gubernatorial candidates supportive of medical marijuana use, meanwhile, were elected in Vermont and Connecticut. The issue has implications for nursing homes because medical cannabis is sometimes used to treat chronic pain and other conditions that afflict seniors.

In South Dakota, voters were asked whether they wanted to support Measure 13, or the South Dakota Safe Access Act, which attempted to exempt state penalties for state-approved cannabis users who possessed marijuana. A little more than a decade ago, Oregon voters voted in favor of physician-authorized used of marijuana. This time, however, they voted against Measure 74, which would have allowed state-licensed non-profits to be involved in the production and distribution of marijuana for authorized patients. Similar measures have passed in Colorado, New Mexico and Maine in previous elections.

The fate of medical marijuana in Arizona was still up in the air three days after the election, when results were still being described as too close to call. Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act (Proposition 203) would allow state-registered patients to obtain cannabis legally from licensed facilities.

A pair of Democratic gubernatorial candidates who have been supportive of medical marijuana, Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Dan Malloy of Connecticut, won their races.