After holding 10 public hearings across the state and meeting with various state departments and stakeholders, the coalition will now start to collect the more than 113,000 required signatures to place doctor-approved access to medical cannabis on the ballot for Utah voters to approve.
“What was most shocking was support among senior citizens,” Utah Patients Coalition co-director DJ Schanz told Ben Lockhart at the Deseret News. “We were shocked at their overwhelming support as we had these public hearings.”A poll conducted by UtahPolicy.com and released in April 2016 indicated 66 percent of Utahns favor legalizing medical marijuana, including majorities among both Republicans and Democrats.
If it wins voter approval, limited numbers of outlets and physicians would be permitted to authorize medical marijuana for certain medical conditions, reports Kelly Gifford at The Salt Lake Tribune. Some of the qualifying medical conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and autism.
Smoking cannabis, driving while under the influence of medical cannabis and public use would still be prohibited. Topicals, oils, edibles and vaping supplies would be allowed under the measure.
In response to feedback from state officials, UPC made two technical changes to the initiative language:
• Striking a short tax deduction provision that would have required federal tax law to be interpreted and implemented by state tax authorities, an issue that advocates plan to revisit with the State Tax Commission and the legislature after the initiative becomes law; and
• Establishing a limit on the amount of medical cannabis that a patient or caregiver can transport, bringing it in line with a common 30-day restriction on pharmacy drugs.“We plan to gather the first signatures by next week and be finished prior to the 2018 legislative session in January,” said Schanz.
“Utah Patients Coalition offers a special thanks to the respectful and timely schedule adhered to by Lt. Governor Cox and his staff in the Elections Division, as well as the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), the State Tax Commission, and the Governor’s General Counsel Jacey Skinner,” the group announced in a prepared statement.
“Our volunteers—many of them patients or caregivers themselves—have been ready and eagerly waiting; it feels good to know we will have scheduled events in the coming weeks for those who have waited years for this.
Everyone involved worked efficiently and provided important input, helping us make sure that Utahns will vote on the best proposal possible,” said Schanz.
Utah Patients Coalition will now begin printing petition packets and organizing signature-gathering efforts. The campaign plans to announce volunteer training and petition events in the coming weeks.
Information for those wishing to donate or help gather signatures will be posted at UtahPatients.org.