Utah Capital

Chris An

Utah Legislature Replaces Medical Cannabis Voter Initiative

The Utah state legislature voted to replace the voter-backed Proposition 2 with the Utah Medical Cannabis Act (UMCA) on Monday, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The replacement, designed by the state of Utah, passed both houses by a wide margin in a single-day special legislative session. Some supporters of Prop. 2 agreed before Election Day to a potential compromise bill, though others — such as advocacy organizations Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education and Alliance for a Better Utah — have taken issue with the replacement legislation.

Most advocates are happy nonetheless that there is any sort of law, however limited, including Connor Boyack, president of free market think group Libertas Institute, which supported Prop. 2.

“For years, we have been seeking a balance between political concessions and pushing the needle as far in favor of medical freedom as we could. This negotiated result is a decent balance to get the program underway. With this result, a major gutting of Prop 2 has been prevented, unlike what we have seen in the past and may see in the future on other issues.” — Connor Boyack, in a prepared statement.

There are several key changes in the UMCA over Prop. 2:

  • The number of allowed dispensaries has been reduced from 40 to just seven.
  • Edibles were largely stripped away as well, with only gelatin cubes allowed under the new rules.
  • Many autoimmune disorders were also removed from the list of qualifying conditions, leaving just Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Lawmakers also raised the age for participation in the program to 21, despite arguments by Democrats that patients aged 18-20 could be approved via a compassionate use board.

More amendments to the bill are expected once the Utah state Senate enters its regular session next year. Some state senators have also suggested that future updates to the Act are a possibility, similar to how the state’s alcohol code is updated almost yearly.

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