By Theo Schall

 

Tuesday, November 4 was Election Day. Across the country, a number of ballot measures had important implications for bioethicists, scientists, healthcare providers, and patients. Note that the results below are tentative, pending final certification.

 

Research & Drugs

 

Arizona approved a legislatively-referred state statute to allow investigational drugs be made available to terminally ill patients prior to FDA approval. For more background on “Right to Try” laws, which have also passed in Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana and Michigan, find comments by our Yoram Unguru, MD, MS, MA, on the Berman Institute Bioethics Bulletin.

Maine approved a ballot measure to issue $10 million in bonds to build a research center for genetic solutions to cancer and diseases of ageing and a ballot measure to issue $3 million in bonds to modernize and expand a laboratory specializing in tissue repair and regeneration.

 

Marijuana & Alcohol

 

Alaska approved a ballot measure to decriminalize up to one ounce of marijuana.

Arkansas rejected an initiated constitutional amendment to legalize the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol statewide. About half of the state’s counties will remain “dry.”

Florida rejected an initiated constitutional amendment that would have legalized medical marijuana.

Oregon approved a ballot measure to legalize up to eight ounces of marijuana.

Washington, DC approved a ballot measure to legalize the possession and use of up to two ounces of marijuana. At least one House Republican intends to attempt the revoke the measure during Congressional review.

 

“Personhood” Amendments

 

Colorado rejected an initiated constitutional amendment that would have included unborn human beings under the definition of “person” and “child” in the state’s criminal code.

North Dakota rejected a legislatively-referred amendment to the state constitution to provide for the “inalienable right to life” at every stage of human development.

Tennessee approved a legislatively-referred amendment that added language to the state constitution empowering the legislature to enact, amend or repeal state statutes regarding abortion, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to protect the mother’s life.

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