Distribution, eligible conditions among sticking points of medical cannabis compromise

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – State lawmakers are moving forward with an effort to modify the medical cannabis proposition passed by voters earlier this month.

The compromise bill is backed by the governor, majority leadership in the legislature, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others.

But, it is meeting resistance in many ways, including distribution and eligible conditions.

Prop 2 drew more voters than any other issue on this year’s ballot. It passed with just under 53% of the vote, but the battle continues.

One of the big sticking points is the distribution model.

Connor Boyack, with the Libertas Institute, played a key role in drafting both Prop 2 and the replacement bill.

He says under Prop 2, dispensaries would be scattered across the state. It provides for one dispensary for every 150,000 in population.

“We anticipated between 15 and 20 statewide, privately owned dispensaries where if you get a recommend you can walk in and basically buy anything you want,” said Boyack.

Under the latest replacement bill, that would be reduced to seven dispensaries, but it would also include a government-run delivery system for those that don’t live near one.

“You are going to be able to, in theory, call into this government-owned version, they will prepare your medication for you and ship it via courier out to the county health department near where you live,” said Boyack.

If that fails or isn’t timely implemented, three more dispensaries could be added.

Rocky Anderson represents some patients opposed to the replacement bill.

“They are cutting, in at least half, the number of dispensaries that will be available. So, you are restricting access, especially in rural areas. It’s very discriminatory,” Anderson said.

Anderson and his clients also take exception with the bill removing auto-immune diseases from the eligible conditions.

“They’ve wiped out all of those except for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s from the replacement bill. There is no good reason for that,” said Anderson.

Boyack says the reason is to remove open-ended possibilities and points out terminal and hospice are added as conditions under the bill.

He says any patient will have a chance to make their case.

“For anyone who’s not covered, we still have this Compassionate Use Board, this process for someone to go get a one-off approval,” said Boyack.

The special session to address the issue is expected next week, but the governor has yet to make the official call.

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...