Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who represents two Utah medical cannabis groups, said in a letter dated Nov. 15 that the groups are exploring legal action in response to a proposed special session to enact a “compromise” bill between state and church leaders. Medical cannabis advocates say that the church shouldn’t have influence over the outcome of the state’s proposed medical cannabis system.
The “preservation letter” was sent to Mormon church lobbyists, the Utah Patients Coalition, the Utah Medical Association and members of the Utah State Legislature.
Although Utahan voters approved Proposition 2, the Utah State Legislature plans on introducing a compromise bill on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Lawmakers plan on convening for a special session on Dec. 3 to overwrite Proposition 2 with several modifications. Historically, the Mormon church has played a heavy role in the influence of Utah laws.
Anderson represents Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) and the Epilepsy Association of Utah. The groups are challenging the proposed special session, calling it collusion between church and state officials. “Although initiative statutes may be amended or repealed by the Legislature, the almost immediate extreme undermining of numerous provisions of Proposition 2 at the behest of The Church of Jesus Christ is anti-democratic and contemptuous of the … recognition in the Utah Constitution that the people are to have the power to enact legislative changes,” Anderson wrote in the letter.
Three bullet points listed in the letter stated that the groups are challenging the proposed December special session, the influence of the church on the outcome of Proposition 2 and the long-term pattern of interference in Utah laws by the Mormon church.
The number of dispensaries would be drastically reduced under the compromise bill. While Proposition 2 would create 40 privately-owned dispensaries, the draft compromise bill would create only five “cannabis pharmacies” and a central state-run wholesale-type pharmacy to supply the other five.