Skyline view of Salt Lake City, the capital city of Utah, with the State Capitol building on the right.

Ron Reiring

Utah Advocates Pushing to Put MMJ to Voters in 2018

Advocates in Utah hoping to put a comprehensive medical cannabis question to voters in 2018 have begun the petitioning process, basing the language of their initiative on legislation that died before lawmakers last year, the Daily Herald reports. Although smoking would be prohibited under the measure, it would allow whole-plant access. Currently, the state permits patients with intractable epilepsy to possess CBD extracts; however, there is no place in-state for them to legally obtain the products.

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters must submit more than 113,000 valid signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Furthermore, Utah law requires that the signatures are spread semi-evenly throughout the state’s Senate districts.

“The sponsors must collect the signatures of registered Utah voters from each of at least 26 of the 29 state senate districts equal to 10 percent of votes cast for US President in that district,” the state’s petition rules state.

But before petitioners can start knocking on doors, the petition language must be approved by the Lieutenant Governor’s office, and seven public meetings must be hosted throughout the state.

Connor Boyack, president of the libertarian think tank Libertas Institute who is acting as a consultant for the initiative, said he expects the measure to be submitted to the Lieutenant Governor’s office within a couple of weeks.

“Having tried multiple times to persuade the legislature to help these people and facing significant resistance, we think it’s best now to give the public a chance to decide for themselves,” he said in the report.

Boyack estimates that the group will need $2 million to pay for professionals to help gather signatures and for advertising.

According to a Dec. 2015 UtahPolicy poll, 60 percent of Utahans support medical cannabis.

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