Andrew Smith

Report: Utah Lawmakers Considering Adopting MMJ Bill with Language Tying Rollout to Fed Policy

According to a Utah Policy report, state lawmakers may attempt to stymie activists’ efforts to legalize cannabis for medical use by adopting the same language in the ballot proposal as a bill but including language that would prevent the measure from taking effect until the federal government reclassifies cannabis as a Schedule IV drug.

The move would prevent the proposed ballot initiative from moving forward because its language would already be codified as state law. Although the ballot proposal includes language to override existing state law, the report says that legislative lawyers have concluded that adding the Schedule IV language would not present a “conflict” with the ballot language, therefore not allowing the initiative to supersede the state statute.

In the report, House Speaker Greg Hughes said he was unaware of such a plan but that “it makes sense” to tie the law to the federal reclassification of cannabis.

D.J. Schanz, director of Utah Patients Coalition, compared the rumored legislative plan to a 2014 ballot initiative called “Count My Vote,” which would have replaced the state’s caucus selection process for candidates for public office with a mandatory primary election. That language was partially adopted by the legislature and a compromise that favored established lawmakers was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.

“We are moving forward with our efforts to give patients access to the medicine they need and that the public wants. These efforts by unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats to undermine the political process and the public will, will, fortunately, be viewed as parlor tricks from a desperate legislative body to put their thumbprint on an issue and patients that they’ve ignored and kicked down the road. This isn’t ‘Count My Vote’ in 2014, and we aren’t playing chicken. This will be on the ballot in November of 2018 for the people of Utah to decide on, regardless of the shenanigans being toyed with.” – Schanz, in a statement to Utah Policy

Three polls have found more than 70 percent of Utah voters support medical cannabis reforms. The coalition needs 11,143 signatures of registered voters by Apr. 15 in order to get the measure to voters.

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