After years of watching the Utah Legislature sandbag the medical marijuana issue, advocates are taking matters into their own hands.
A report from Fox 13 indicates that a group called the Utah Patients Coalition has launched a campaign aimed at putting a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in the 2018 election.
The proposal, designed in the image of legislation brought to the table last year by state Senator Mark Madsen, would allow patients with a variety of health conditions to purchase cannabis products with a doctor’s permission.
Although the measure does not allow marijuana to be smoked, it would give program participants the right to use edibles, oils and vaporizers.
As we have seen with other medical marijuana states, like Florida, Minnesota and New York, all of which prohibit smoking as part of the medical program’s rules, the measure would also prevent patients from cultivating their own medicine at home. It is a conservative approach that advocates feel will make the proposal more palatable to the average voter.
Earlier this week, the coalition took the first step in the ballot initiative process by submitting the required paperwork. After the language is reviewed by the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office, the campaign will then hold a series of public hearings and be responsible for collecting 115,000 signatures by January in order to secure a spot on the ballot next November.
If all goes according to plan, and the measure does, in fact, end up going before the voters, it is highly likely that it will be approved. Some of the latest polls show that the majority of the state’s voting public (more than 70 percent) is in favor of medical marijuana. In fact, nearly 50 percent of those polled said they would “definitely” support an initiative that allowed people to have access to cannabis for conditions ranging from cancer to chronic pain.
“Utahns are compassionate, and medical cannabis is ultimately a question of compassion. Voters in our state support allowing sick Utahns to legally and safely access medical treatments that alleviate suffering,” campaign director DJ Schanz said in a statement. “The patients cannot wait any longer, so we are proposing a conservative medical cannabis initiative that Utahns across the political spectrum will approve at the ballot box next year.”
Advocates say they have already raised the funds to run the campaign. Reports shows the group intends to spend in upwards of $3 million to make this effort a success.