The state voted for the bill in the 2018 election, but local lawmakers are working hard to stop it.
When it was announced earlier this year that Utah would be voting for Proposition 2, a medical cannabis initiative, the state was surprised. The bill, which would make cannabis legal under very strict control for certain medical patients, would be game changing for the cannabis industry as a whole. Up until then, Utah was the last state anyone would have expected to legalize cannabis in any facet. Election day showed, though, that Utahn’s were not opposed to it. 53% of voters approved of the bill, which was supposed to go into effect this month. The bill that will actually go into effect, though, is not what voters approved.
The bill that will go into effect this year was organized by Governor Gary Herbert. Herbert reasoned with the LDS church to come to a compromise. The church was one of the main entities opposing the original bill. The bill has since been rewritten, and a much more strict version of the initiative will be used instead. Governor Gary Herbert has come under fire in the wake of the bill for taking the opinion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints into consideration when rewriting the a bill that would impact the lives of Utah citizens. The new bill proposes a much tighter restriction on who qualifies for medical cannabis and how much they can purchase.
The Replacement Bill
Governor Gary Herbert calls the solution that he’s come up with a “compromise bill.” Multiple patients’ advocacy groups have filed lawsuits against the governor for changing the bill without voter consent. Many lawsuits claim that the compromise bill illegally lets the church dictate the rules of the state. This is considered unconstitutional according to both state and federal regulations. For example, Article I, Section 4 of the Utah Constitution states “there shall be no union of church and state, nor shall any church dominate the state or interfere with its functions.” Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) and the Epilepsy Association are two of the plaintiffs. The lawsuit lists Herbert and the Director of the Utah Department of Health, Joseph Miner, as defendants.
The lawsuit claims that the compromise bill also violates a Utahn’s authority to enact laws via initiative, which is highlighted under Article VI, Section 1. There is no question about whether the LDS church has had some influence on the local law in Utah. What happened with Proposition 2 confirms that it still does. To read more about the new medical cannabis bill, click here.