Utah's new medical marijuana laws won't stop ballot initiative that would further expand access

SALT LAKE CITY — It will be legal next year in Utah for approved farmers to grow medical marijuana for researchers and dying patients under one of several new legislative measures signed by Gov. Gary Herbert this month.

The state will also monitor the safety of marijuana extract oils being sold in stores as part of a package of legislation that Rep. Brad Daw, the Republican who sponsored four of the five measures, said Monday moves the state forward at the right pace.

UPDATE: Utah governor to oppose medical marijuana ballot initiative

Advocates of broader marijuana legislation disagree.

They say they plan to get an initiative on the ballot in November that would allow voters to approve a state-regulated marijuana growing and dispensing operation to allow people with certain medical conditions to get a card and use the drug in edible forms like candy, in topical forms like lotions or balms, as an oil or in electronic cigarettes — but not for smoking.

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Christine Stenquist, president of a group called Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, said she applauds the move to regulate the sale of the oil extract that is used by people with severe epilepsy, but that most of the legislation is hollow.

“It isn’t actually moving the ball forward, it’s delaying the conversation,” Stenquist said. “It’s smoke and mirrors.”

She said the group already has 117,000 verified signatures for the ballot initiative– more than the 113,000 needed by the April 15 deadline.

Under one of the new laws, farmers vetted by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food will be allowed starting next year to grow marijuana that would be converted into forms such as pills, gel caps and oils, Daw said.

It can be used for research or for medical use

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