Utah: Proponents Of 2018 Medical Cannabis Ballot Measure Achieve Signature Milestone

Proponents of a proposed 2018 medicalization initiative have gathered an estimated 160,000 signatures and appear poised to place the measure on the November ballot.

Last week, a representative from the Lt. Governor’s Office said that officials have already validated 117,000 signatures from registered voters — more than than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the state ballot. Proponents of the measure, the Utah Patients Coalition, still have approximately two more weeks to collect additional signatures.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

In recent days, both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a March UtahPolicy.com poll.

In 2014, Utah became the first non-medical cannabis state to explicitly permit qualified patients to possess CBD-infused products. However, that law provided no legal in-state supply source or distribution for the products. This legislative session, lawmakers approved separate legislation permitting the Department of Agriculture and Food to contract with a third party to cultivate cannabis for the purpose of manufacturing marijuana-infused oils and other related products, but only for those patients who are terminally ill.

Utah is one of at least four states where voters are anticipated to decide later this year on marijuana-related ballot proposals. Oklahoma voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January. In Michigan, proponents of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act have turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. State officials must certify a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters. According to a March 2018 EPIC-MRA poll, and commissioned by Michigan NORML, 61 percent of voters say that they would vote ‘yes’ on the measure “if the election were held today.” In Missouri, backers of a voter initiated effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have surpassed well over 200,000 signatures. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 qualified signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts by May 6, 2018 in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.