Robert Cutts

Utah Lawmakers to Vote On Changing Voter-Backed Cannabis Measure

Utah lawmakers are expected to vote on Monday for several alterations to the state’s voter-approved medical cannabis initiative, the Associated Press reports.

Lawmakers will meet today in a special lame-duck session to discuss and vote on changes to Proposition 2, which was approved by 53 percent of voters during Utah’s midterm elections despite heavy opposition by lawmakers and the Mormon Church. Specifically, the legislature aims to slash the number of medical professionals who would be qualified to recommend medical cannabis, reduce the number of qualifying conditions, and remove rules allowing patients who live far away from a licensed dispensary to grow their own cannabis plants.

Proponents of the “compromise legislation,” which was first mentioned in October, say the proposed changes would still give medical cannabis access to those who truly need it while doing more to keep cannabis away from children and dissuade any broader legalization attempts in the future.

Note: even before lawmakers decided to change it, the smoking of medical cannabis was not allowed under the voter-backed Proposition 2.

Last month, cannabis advocacy group Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education threatened to sue state lawmakers and the Mormon Church if Utah’s recently-passed medical cannabis initiative is not implemented as it was written.

“It’s an almost complete disregard for the will of the people once they’ve spoken through the initiative process.” — Rocky Anderson, an attorney for cannabis advocates, via the AP

However, representatives from another advocacy group — the Utah Patients Coalition — support the compromise bill, arguing that, because Utah state law allows the legislature to change or even throw out any voter-approved measure, it is wiser to remain at the bargaining table and work with lawmakers and the anti-cannabis lobby on the issue.

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