Arizona voters approved a ballot measure to legalize marijuana use. Arizona is now the 15th state to approve a medical marijuana law. California was the first in 1996.
Ross D. Frankin/AP
By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have given their OK to legalized medical marijuana for people with chronic or debilitating diseases.
Proposition 203 won by just 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million ballots counted, according to final tallies Saturday.
Approval came as somewhat of a surprise after the measure started out losing on Election Day by about 7,200 votes. The gap gradually narrowed until it surged ahead during Friday's count by more than 4,000 votes. Saturday's final count was 841,346 in favor of the measure and 837,005 opposed.
"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," said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project.
The Arizona measure will allow patients with "chronic or debilitating" disease that meets guidelines to buy 2.5 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 allows for no more than 124 marijuana dispensaries in the state. After ballots are canvassed Nov. 29, the state has 120 days before the law goes into effect.