Utah lawmakers are meeting today for a special session to vote on the medical marijuana compromise bill, intended to replace Proposition 2.
It’s a session fraught with controversy. Proposition 2 was passed during the general election on Nov. 6 with the support of 53 percent of voters, and now some fear that lawmakers will be throwing away a plan approved by the voters and replacing it with one of their own.
Some Prop. 2 supporters have even started getting ready to fight the compromise bill in court, with attorney Rocky Anderson publicly threatening to sue if the bill is passed.
But not everybody agrees that the compromise bill is ignoring the will of the people. DJ Schanz of the Utah Patient Coalition, one of the original drafters of Prop. 2, has defended the compromise, saying that “making public policy collaboratively rather than confrontationally yields longer-lasting agreements and sustainable programs.”
The bill is expected to pass through today’s special session. KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanvoic spoke with political analyst and Deseret News opinions editor Boyd Matheson to understand exactly how much that’s really going to change.
What will the compromise bill actually change?
The compromise bill, Matheson says, was an agreement drafted and approved by both supporters and opponents of Proposition 2.
“Both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ sides got together before the vote and said: ‘Look, we know there are problems with the initiative. Let’s see if we can address those,’” Matheson says.
The changes to the bill, he says, are designed to make sure that legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t open a floodgate of illegal, recreation drug use. The bill, he says, is designed to make sure that “in our rush alleviate the suffering for some, we don’t create suffering for others.”
Some of those changes include:
– Limiting the approved forms of marijuana consumption, including eliminating marijuana-infused edibles
– Removing the provision allowing patients living more than 100 miles from a dispensary to grow up to six of their own marijuana plants
– Decreasing the number of licenses for marijuana growing facilities and medical marijuana pharmacies
– Modifying the “affirmative defense” allowing patients to fight marijuana possession charges received before cards are ready, specifying that the marijuana must be in “medicinal usage form” and that the patient must have a “pre-existing relationship” with a doctor who has indicated they could medically benefit from marijuana use.
– Removing a restriction prohibiting landlords from refusing to rent to medical cannabis cardholders
These are only a handful of the changes. A comprehensive list can be found at Deseret News. More changes are, however, expected to be made to the bill during today’s special session.
A great deal could still change. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck has announced that she intends to introduce her own alternative bill to challenge the compromise bill, one which she says does “not make any substantive changes to the proposition that Utah voters favorable passed.”
For his part, however, Boyd Matheson believes that the compromise bill is the excellent piece of legislation.
“This is really Utah at its finest,” Matheson says. “I think that this is one where Utah can really lead the nation.”
More to the story
The special session is currently underway. KSL Newsradio will keep you up-to-date as this story develops.
In the meantime, you can hear Boyd Matheson’s full interview with KSL Newsradio on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.
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