Utah Medical Marijuana Initiative Faces Uphill Fight

Proponents of an initiative to legalize medicinal cannabis in Utah have gathered an estimated 160,000 signatures from registered voters — more than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the ballot in November. Last week, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office announced that 117,000 of the signatures had been validated.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act would allow qualified patients to obtain either herbaceous cannabis or cannabis-infused products from state-licensed dispensaries. But getting it passed isn’t going to be easy.

As the Good4Utah news site reports, the Utah Medical Association is accusing organizers of misleading voters. It is calling on residents who were “unknowingly fooled” into signing the petition to contact their county clerks and the Lt. Governor, and demand their names be removed.

“This initiative is not about medicine,” UMA said in a statement quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune. “Supporters have used images and stories of suffering patients to disguise their true aim of opening another market for their products and paving the way for recreational use of cannabis in Utah.”

The statement also thanked Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, for his vocal stance against the measure. UMA said it “unequivocally states its opposition to the current initiative and applauds Gov. Herbert for speaking out in opposition as well, fulfilling his role in protecting public health and safety.”

The response was swift and unequivocal from supporters of the initiative. The personal-freedom advocates at the Libertas Institute charged that the UMA doesn’t speak for all Utah doctors on the matter. “Many physicians have confirmed their interest in allowing their suffering patients to access medical cannabis,” the group said. “Science isn’t settled by a vote — whether the Legislature or the UMA board.”

Getting the Mormon establishment in Utah on board with the initiative could make the decisive difference, and advocates have met with representatives of the Church of Latter-Day Saints to discuss the

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