Utah’s Medical Cannabis Compromise Bill Unveiled

Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes presented the revised Utah Medical Cannabis Act, a bill that’s being sold as a compromise between medical cannabis advocates and opponents, at the bill’s first hearing on Oct. 17. Utahns are currently embroiled in a cultural war between the local passionate medical cannabis community and the state’s long-held conservative Latter-Day Saint supermajority.

Gov. Gary Herbert unveiled the compromise bill’s first draft on Oct. 4. The compromise bill, for instance, would rebrand dispensaries as “medical cannabis pharmacies,” making Utah a guinea pig for a state-controlled distribution model. Other states have toyed with the idea of launching a pharmacy model for medical cannabis, but little has come of it. Edibles would be banned under the compromise bill, and certain qualifying conditions such as chronic pain would be eliminated. Cannabis flower would have to be sold in blister packs to control dosage.

Initial polls suggested that Utah’s more liberal Proposition 2 was easily headed to victory, but a more recent poll found that the bill’s passage is no longer a sure thing, with support barely surpassing 50 percent.

President of TRUCE Utah Christine Stenquist still believes Proposition 2 is a much better option on the table. “My concern is that this is political theatre that we have going on right now. You guys have introduced a compromise bill that is not finished,” Stenquist told The Salt Lake Tribune. “You’ve told the entire state that you’ve got this, and I’m concerned that you don’t have this.”

Until the Nov. 6 midterm elections, there are several ways that this could play out in Utah, depending on if Proposition 2 passes and where to go from there. A plan to address the compromise bill during a special session in the Utah Legislature is scheduled for Nov. 14.

 

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This midterm election is the first time significant legislation, led by the people via a public petition, that would legalize #cannabis has appeared on a ballot in #Utah. Proposition 2 follows the example set by other states and establishes a system that will both ensure that the desires of the people are enforced and the people who need it have access to cannabis as medication. However, it’s lost a lot of momentum after legislators met behind closed doors, without public input, to develop a “compromise” solution that is both inferior, more heavy-handed, and takes several of the allowable conditions (most notably “chronic pain”) off the list of conditions by which you could acquire medical cannabis. It’s a bait-and-switch and, since many of the signing legislators are on their way out, is an easy way to kick the can down the road and continue the practice of delaying an actual decision while a huge population of the state suffers from opioid addiction. I don’t usually get political but I am proud to be voting in favor of this historic legislation and urge you to support it as well if you are in Utah. This is the best way we get support, there’s no guarantee that a special session discussing a cannabis legalization comprise will happen, nor that the compromise will be enforceable or sufficient. Vote for Proposition 2. #utahprop2 #utahpolitics #medicalcannabis

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