Utah legislative session ends without passing medical marijuana legislation
Last update: March 17, 2016
Although compassionate medical cannabis legislation got further than ever before in Utah by passing the state Senate, this year’s legislative session concluded without House lawmakers following suit. Sen. Mark Madsen’s SB 73 was voted down in the Health and Human Services Committee, and the clock ran out on passage of an inferior low-THC bill.
Many advocates are now moving forward with plans for a ballot initiative that asks voters whether they want medical cannabis in Utah. Polls indicate widespread support for such an initiative. While the work of running such a campaign — in particular, collecting the needed signatures — will be a heavy lift, ballot initiative medical programs are often more comprehensive than legislatively-enacted ones, as their passage is not dependent on last minute compromises that politicians often have to make to secure approval. The initiative will be filed within the next few months, and then the process of signature collection shall begin. The goal is to place the initiative on the ballot for 2018. Make sure to sign up for our alerts to receive information on how you can get involved.
Decriminalization and prohibition
Under current Utah law, possession of as little as an ounce or less of marijuana can result in a six-month jail sentence. Unfortunately, minority and low-income communities in Utah are disproportionately the ones who face these draconian penalties. The ACLU recently found that black Utahans are over three and three-quarters times as likely to get arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors.
Write your legislators and ask that they support establishing a program for medical marijuana in Utah. Or, ask them to reduce the penalty for marijuana possession to a more reasonable non-criminal fine.
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If you are a patient, a medical professional, a law enforcement official, or a clergy member, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help in future efforts to get sensible marijuana legislation introduced in Utah.