Voters in Utah have approved a ballot measure to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.
Welcome to the club!
Utah and Missouri voters passed ballot initiatives to legalize medical cannabis during the Nov. 6 Midterm elections. With these two joining the club, there are now 33 states in the country that have legalized medical pot.
Meanwhile, a ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis was approved in Michigan. This means that there are now 10 states where adult-use pot is legal, plus Washington D.C.
Utah’s medical cannabis initiative, called Proposition 2 or the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, got a 53 percent favorable vote.
Many attribute this majority vote in the conservative state to the Mormon church’s decision to finally support the measure. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which a considerable number of the state’s population are members, had initially opposed the bill. But after months of heated debate between the two sides, the church joined lawmakers, cannabis advocates, and the governor in backing the initiative.
According to Utah Public Radio, Gov. Gary Herbert and the state’s key legislators were already working on a medical cannabis bill similar to Proposition 2. They had intended to pass this bill regardless of how the vote turned out on Tuesday.
Provisions under Proposition 2
Patients can get approval to use medical cannabis under Proposition 2 if they have one of the medical conditions listed as a “qualifying illness.” They will also have to obtain a physician’s recommendation before they can get a medical cannabis card.
These qualifying illnesses include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- nausea or malnutrition associated with chronic disease
- cachexia or a condition characterized by physical wasting
- Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or any similar gastrointestinal disorder
- epilepsy or any similar condition that causes multiple, hard-to-control, and debilitating seizures
- multiple sclerosis or any similar ailment that causes persistent and debilitating muscle spasms
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- a rare condition or disease affecting less than 200,000 people in the U.S., as defined by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Persons suffering from chronic pain may have a qualifying illness if they are not able to use opiate-based pain medication because of certain medical risks. Those who are suffering from a condition that is not listed as among the qualifying illnesses may seek the Compassionate Use Board’s approval to obtain a medical cannabis card.
Proposition 2 does not allow medical cannabis card holders to smoke cannabis or use a device that aids in or contributes to cannabis combustion at a temperature greater than 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cannabis processing facilities are also prohibited from producing cannabis products that are like candy in appearance or that look appealing to children.
Proposition 2 will become effective on December 1, 2018. This is five days after Gov. Herbert expects to certify the results.
However, Gov. Herbert has already expressed his plan to call a special legislative session to discuss and approve a “compromise” bill that would take the place of the ballot initiative.
The Utah Department of Health, which will be the regulating body for the state’s medical cannabis program, is expected to start issuing medical cannabis cards by March 1, 2020.