Utah organizations react to passage of ‘compromise’ bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill into law Monday that will replace a medical marijuana proposition approved by voters in November.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act as it was coined was announced in early October ahead of Election Day. Key stakeholders and lawmakers agreed to come together to address what many called “issues” with the proposition.

Before the start of the Special Session to hammer out details of the compromise, Alliance for a Better Utah urged the legislature to “respect the will of the people.”

“We strongly urge state lawmakers to honor the will of the people on medical cannabis legislation. Regardless of their personal policy preferences, lawmakers should respect that a majority of voters approved Proposition 2. Voters were not at the table to negotiate this compromise, and the negative public sentiment shows strong opposition to it,” said Chase Thomas, executive director of Better Utah.

The bill passed easily in both the House and Senate by an almost party-line vote. Gov. Herbert released a statement shortly after signing the bill, calling the day historic.

“Utah now has the best-designed medical cannabis program in the country,” said Herbert. 

After the legislation was approved, organizations weighed in on the latest development regarding medical cannabis in the state:

Connor Boyack, Libertas Institute:

“Contrary to critics’ assertions, House Bill 3001 is a workable solution to provide reliable access for patients in Utah seeking medical cannabis. For years, we have been seeking a balance between political concessions and pushing the needle as far in favor of medical freedom as we could. This negotiated result is a decent balance to get the program underway. 

With this result, a major gutting of Prop 2 has been prevented, unlike what we have seen in the past and may see in the future on other issues.

Libertas Institute helped begin the medical cannabis reform effort in Utah five years ago. Since that time, we have remained deeply involved.  In HB 3001 there are some ways Proposition 2 has been weakened. But there are also many improvements to Proposition 2. In the end, it’s a tremendous achievement that our major opponents support this broad access program for patients in need.

We appreciate the eagerness of Speaker Hughes to facilitate the drafting of HB 3001 and being its chief sponsor. We appreciate Senator Vickers for his involvement in drafting discussions and for sponsoring the bill in the Senate. Finally, we appreciate the Governor’s agreement to call a special session and enact the final result into law.

Most importantly, we have deep gratitude for patients who have openly shared their stories for years, advocates who tirelessly worked to get the issue presented to voters, and to the majority of Utah’s voters for supported Prop 2.

HB 3001 was not a compromise per se, but an agreement on how a medical cannabis program that the people have asked for would be implemented. We will remain engaged for years to come on this issue, ensuring that patients are not treated as criminals.”

Sutherland Institute:

“Sutherland Institute commends the House and Senate for enacting the Utah Medical Cannabis Act – and expresses gratitude to the negotiators from both sides of this issue who have earnestly striven to develop the compromise,” Rasmussen said.

“The medical cannabis bill assures availability and limits potential harm to others, including and especially children and non-users. The compromise achieves this balance by means of a regulatory framework that includes control mechanisms, reporting requirements and limited distribution points managed by pharmacists.

“Further, as the Legislature continues careful monitoring of these important matters, we recommend that they authorize a study, over an extended period, of the effects of long-term use of medical cannabis on those to whom it is prescribed – especially children and minors.”

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