Utah's Medical Pot Ballot Has Support From Mormon Church

October 9, 2018

By Bridgette Webb

The battle over Utah's Proposition 2 ー a medical marijuana initiative ー seemed to take an unexpected turn last week when both supporters and opponents reached a consensus and produced a separate bill that would legalize medicinal cannabis in the state, but contains limits on what's allowed.

For the president of Utah's State Senate, momentum for a compromise came from an effort to prevent recreational marijuana legalization from gaining any real traction.

"We got to make sure that we have the controls in place, the guardrails to keep it from recreational use," Republican Wayne Niederhauser said Tuesday in an interview on Cheddar.

"We want to make sure that patients are getting marijuana they need to deal with Crohn's or epilepsy or a litany of conditions that are showing promising effects of using cannabis."

Last week's deal, which was backed by the Mormon Church, increases the likelihood locals will be able to access medical cannabis. Unlike the Prop 2, it doesn't permit residents to grow their own marijuana if they live too far from a dispensary. It will also establish a centralized pharmacy to supply health departments with marijuana in medicinal dosage form.

Prop 2, on the other hand, allows patients to purchase marijuana products from privately-owned dispensaries or a wider network of vendors. The compromise doesn't knock Prop 2 off November's ballot, but it may cause locals to reconsider their stance. If Prop 2 passes muster with Utah voters, it will automatically be enacted in the state. Meanwhile, the compromise exists only at the legislative level, and will likely be voted on after the midterms by lawmakers.

The compromise is the latest symbol of the country's changing attitude on marijuana. Lawmakers seem to realize that the marijuana debate won't leave the voting public's minds ー so concessions on both sides may be necessary.

Thirty states have legalized medical use of cannabis, and nine have legalized recreational cannabis. And in Utah, a majority of voters support medical legalization of the drug.

But Niederhauser maintained that the numbers don't necessarily suggest Prop 2 will pass. He thinks the compromise measure will be preferable to locals.

"The last polling we saw before the solution came out with the different stakeholders, we saw about 60 percent were in favor. But I believe at least 40 percent of those people will be in favor of the solution we came up with. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is in November," he said.

For full interview click here.