Utah lawmakers convened a special legislative session today to debate proposed replacement legislation to the state’s newly approved voter-initiated medical cannabis access law.
A majority of voters in November decided ‘yes’ on Proposition 2: The Utah Medical Cannabis Act. Legislators are now seeking to significantly curtail the law by replacing it with separate so-called ‘compromise’ legislation. Lawmakers announced in October their intent to amend the legislation, prior to its passage, after meetings with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — who opposed the bill — and other groups, including some backers of the original bill. However, other proponents of Proposition 2, including the group TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), says that they will file a lawsuit if the legislature overrides the law.
The newly proposed legislation eliminates patients’ option to home cultivate medical marijuana, limits the pool of health professionals who can make medical cannabis recommendations, and imposes new restrictions on the number of medical cannabis providers and how they may operate, among other changes.
“Lawmakers should respect the will of state voters who decisively approved Proposition 2 as originally written,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Utahns want a patient-centric, functioning medical marijuana program. To ensure this law will benefit those it is meant to serve, the state legislature should not add unnecessary restrictions. Patients deserve the right to cultivate their own medicine, doctors should be empowered to decide what is best for their patients, and there should be no undue hurdles to licensing dispensaries to provide cannabis related products in a retail environment.”
A separate legislative proposal backed by the Utah House Democratic Caucus seeks to make only minor administrative changes to The Utah Medical Cannabis Act, and does “not make any substantive changes to the proposition that Utah voters favorably passed.”
NORML has criticized efforts toward modifying the law, stating: “Rather than amending this voter-initiated proposition – and removing many of its key provisions – politicians should respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact medical cannabis access in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law.”
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