Update: Arizona Voters Narrowly Approve Medical Marijuana Initiative

By a margin of just 4,341 votes, Arizona voters approved a measure that will legalize medical marijuana use for people with certain chronic or debilitating conditions.  The measure started out losing by about 7,200 votes on Election Day, but the gap gradually narrowed in the following 10 days, as provisional and mail-in ballots were counted.

Under Proposition 203, licensed physicians could recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and Alzheimer's disease. Patients would then be required to register for identification cards with the state health department. They can receive up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from dispensaries or cultivate up to 12 plants if they live 25 miles or more from a dispensary.

The law allows for no more than 124 dispensaries operated by non-profits to start, proportionate to the number of pharmacies in the state.   Officials say that it will take up to a year for the dispensaries to be up and running.

Employers will not be allowed to discriminate against or terminate registered users, but workers will be prohibited from being on the medicine during performance of their jobs.

Following passage in Arizona, 15 states plus Washington, D.C. now permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.