Medical marijuana advocates announce ballot initiative

Sen. Evan Vickers (AP)
Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City (Associated Press)

Advocates who want to see Utah pass a broad medical marijuana program will try to ask voters to approve the idea.

A group called Truce is pushing for marijuana to be allowed in the state as a treatment for certain chronic conditions. The group announced a ballot initiative, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, had proposed a similar plan but supporters worry it was dealt a major blow when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its opposition.

Madsen’s measure is expected to come up for a vote this week, along with a competing bill, sponsored by Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, that would not allow THC consumption and would restrict patients’ applicable ailments. The Mormon church has not objected to the competing bill.

Advocates for medical marijuana said they tried to support medical marijuana in the Legislature, but that they won’t wait to help patients.

Brad Daw (AP)
Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem (AP)

“We believed in the system. We fought legislatively to have our voices heard, and we can’t wait for the Legislature to become comfortable with my medication, with (multiple sclerosis) patients’ medication, with cancer patients’ medication,” said Christine Stenquist, president and co-founder of Truce. “If the Legislature won’t listen, we will take it to the people.”

Stenquist said many people won’t get relief under the restrictive alternative, which limits eligible conditions and only allows a marijuana extract to be used.

Supporters will have until April 15 to file their initiative, get a legal and rascal review on the measure, hold seven town hall meetings around the state and then begin gathering nearly 102,000 signatures in order to put the initiative on November’s ballot. State law requires that 10 percent of the voters in 26 of Utah’s 29 Senate districts sign a petition for a ballot initiative.

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