Skyline photo of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Andrew Smith

Utah Lawsuit Seeks to Block MMJ Ballot Initiative

Medical cannabis opponents in Utah have filed an emergency motion to block the ballot initiative from November ballots, the Associated Press reports. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit argue that the proposal, organized by the Utah Patients Coalition, would break federal law. The lawsuit, filed by Drug Safe Utah, names Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox as the defendant; however, the coalition argues that they deserve standing in the suit because both the petitioner and defendant are opposed to the initiative, Deseret News reports.

The signatures for the medical cannabis initiative were approved in March and the plan was immediately opposed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah Medical Association, the Department of Public Safety, the Drug Enforcement Administration Salt Lake City Metro Narcotics Task Force, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he would support the reforms.   

The proposal does not allow for smokeable cannabis products, instead allowing tinctures, capsules, and topicals; however, that has not stopped opponents from suggesting that, if approved, the measure would lead to recreational cannabis use.

Polls have found strong support for medical cannabis in Utah. A Utah Policy poll from December found 73 percent support, while another by the organization in September found 74 percent support. An August poll by Dan Jones & Associates commissioned by the Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Salt Lake Tribune found 78 percent support – a supermajority.

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