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Support for marijuana initiative may go up in smoke

SALT LAKE CITY — Support for Proposition 2, the medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in November, has dropped significantly since a deal was announced to re-write legislation on the measure after Election Day.

Support for Prop 2 still strong, but waning

Two months ago, approval among Utah voters for Prop 2 was around 66 percent. Now, after the compromise was reached between interest groups including the Utah Medical Association and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who opposed Prop 2, and the Utah Patients Coalition and Libertas Institute, who support the initiative, support for Proposition 2 sits at around 51 percent.

Because of government rules, the original version of Prop 2, not the compromise, is the one that is on the ballot for voters to decide. However, if it passes, the legislature would immediately begin to re-write it to reflect the compromises.

The differences between Prop 2 and the compromise

The new version of legalized medical marijuana in Utah would reduce the number of illnesses for which patients could legally seek cannabis treatment. Currently, Prop 2 would include patients with HIV, Alzheimer’s cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, autism and chronic or debilitating pain in people who cannot use opiates or are at risk of becoming dependent or overdosing on opiates.

The compromise version would narrow the list of qualifying illnesses and require patients to pick up their prescriptions at a local health department location.  The new plan also calls for a state-centralized cannabis pharmacy, which would fill orders from patients and send to only 5 privately owned “cannabis pharmacies” or the designated health department locations for pick up.

Reassurances from the Speaker

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, spoke to state lawmakers yesterday to assure them the revised version of Proposition 2 will be passed even if the original version fails.  Hughes assured state Democrats on Utah’s Capitol Hill Wednesday the consensus bill was not a plot to derail the medical marijuana initiative, something critics of the compromise have claimed.

support for proposition 2 decreases

File photo of a medical marijuana display in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

However, another provision under the compromise would require physicians and pharmacists to control the marijuana dosages for patients and would ban edible versions of cannabis.

Concern about patients

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, who supports Proposition 2, was concerned about whether patients would have the power to be able to adjust their own dosages or find the products that work for them, as the medical community does not yet have standards in place for prescription marijuana.

Parties on both sides of Proposition 2 still maintain they are either opposed or completely support the original bill but most acknowledge the second version is a workable program.  There are some advocates who are unhappy with the agreement.

Lawmakers intend to hold several more discussions on the matter before Election Day.

KSL has a series of voter guides available to educate Utah voters about all the initiatives they will see on their ballots, including Proposition 2. You can find those voter guides along with information about registration deadlines, polling locations and more on our website.