Utah lawmakers to vote on medical cannabis legislation as special session begins

Utah lawmakers are expected to meet Monday night to consider alterations to the state’s medical mariguana laws. Medical cannabis laws have received harsh criticism from both sides of the aisle, and tough conversations are expected to continue tonight. 

Utahns voted to approve medical marijuana via ballot initiative during the most recent election cycle. However, last week, Utah Governor Gary Herbert called for a special session to begin September 16th. The special session will convene to discuss medical marijuana, beer storage, and census funding, among other issues. 

“Governor Herbert has been concerned that Proposition 2 created serious unintended problems. Some of the problems came from unintended errors in drafting. For example, because drafters of Proposition 2 based their amendments on outdated statutes, the initiative as written inadvertently makes changes to vitally important code language about unrelated items such as child custody, Medicaid, and whistleblowers. As a result, the passage of Proposition 2 necessitates immediate legislative fixes, regardless of how anyone feels about the regulatory framework for medical marijuana,” the Governor’s statement on his website explains. 

Medical marijuana in Utah has taken center stage in these soon-to-be debates. 

One such proposal likely to be considered Monday evening includes backtracking on plans to continue with a state-run dispensary program. Considerations regarding the adoption of protections for patients who are concerned about prosecution are also likely to begin. 

 

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Land use ordinances have also been a top concern around medical cannabis in the state. Lawmakers are expected to discuss land use laws, which may impact the availability of medical marijuana for patients in the upcoming year. 

Gov. Herbert said in a prepared response on the issue: 

“I fully support relief of pain and suffering that can be found in medical cannabis products under a doctor’s care. Consequently, I support the proposed Utah Medical Cannabis Act, a landmark compromise that will bring medical cannabis to Utah patients.”

Legislative changes are expected to be implemented following the special session.