State officials just gave the green light to a medical cannabis initiative group in Utah, known as Utah Patients Coalition (UPC), which will allow them to be able to begin gathering signatures. The group must collect 113,143 valid signatures before January (the start of the legislative session) in order to qualify for the 2018 ballot.
The UPC announced its plans to launch a initiative in late-June. Since then, the group has organized its volunteer base in preparation for obtaining signatures over the next five months. “Our volunteers—many of them patients or caregivers themselves—have been ready and early waiting,” Coalition Campaign Co-director DJ Schanz. “It feels good to know we will have scheduled events in the coming weeks for those who have waited years for this.”
The final approval was given by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who made the decision after having multiple meetings with legislators, state Gov. Gary Herbert and 10 different hearings that were previously held throughout the state. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, backers of the initiative only made two “technical” changes to the measure as a result of legislator feedback. The first change completely removed a provision on tax deductions, and the second included a new addition to restrict the amount of medical cannabis that can be transported by caregivers.
If the initiative ends up being approved by voters, the state will then allow a limited number of medical cannabis dispensaries to sell cannabis, as well as doctors to prescribe it as medicine. Public consumption or driving while under the influence would still be strictly prohibited. Patients who are diagnosed with conditions such as Alzheimer’s diseases, Multiple Sclerosis, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and autism would be able to benefit from medical cannabis in Utah.
Schanz is certain that voters will have everything they need to make their decision about medical cannabis. “Everyone involved worked efficiently and provided important input, helping us make sure that Utahns will vote on the best proposal possible,” he said.