A Proposition 2 supporter on election night at a clock party for patient advocates in Utah. Renee Bright / KUER…
Renee Bright / KUER
Utah legislators get ready to meet in a special lame-duck session on Monday to rewrite a medical marijuana team as electorate went in November. The patient advocates say the flight is an end leap around voters.
Last year, Julie King, mother of four from Saratoga Springs, Utah has been a vocal advocate for medical marijuana after she discovered that she has a negative reaction to opioids.
During the summer, King was diagnosed with a subset of sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. And she, like thousands of Utahs, wrote on a civil-led petition to add medical cannabis to the vote in November. The initiative, called Proposition 2, passed almost 53 percent support, but not without controversy.
“Cannabis is an alternative to me for this very rare, very high recurrent cancer, and I want it as an alternative,” she said.
In early October, a coalition of Republican legislators announced – which came together with doctors , some pro-cannabis advocates and leaders in the Church of Mormon – that, regardless of whether the action passed, they would elaborate another version of the law shortly after elections. This version, they said, would address concerns about public security.
“I believe that we try to strike a strong foundation on how we deliver for patient access, medical marijuana, safely and also protect the public from inadvertent consequences, “Utah House Speaker told republican Greg Hughes at a press conference announcing the deal.
These inadvertent Consequences include, “he says, holding the drug out of the hands of children and opening the door to the recreation pit like neighboring Colorado and Nevada
They A new bill, released just before Thanksgiving, limits the list of qualified diseases and tightens the distribution, sales and format of the drug, including other changes.
Julie King has read the new legislation, all 187 pages, saying that she is not a big fan. Among her concerns is that the bill was mostly created behind closed doors, with the exception of patron advocates, and granted demands from opponents like the Mormon Church, which has a major impact on Utah’s policy.
Julia Ritchey / KUER
In the latest version, King would qualify for a card as a painful patient but would have to make his case before a “compassionate” card.
The rewriting has become so thoughtful that two of the largest patient groups that helped launch Proposition 2 have been fragmented – one in support of the deal, the other threatened to sue.
During the first and only public hearing of the accounts, more than 70 people wrote, mostly in opposition. Rocky Anderson, representing the two patient groups, told TRUCE and the Epilepsy Association of Utah that it was a surrender to the opponents of Proposition 2. “This is not a uncompromising law.”
Connor Boyack, a writer of the new bill and the pro-medical marijuana group leader, Utah Patients Coalition, thinks critics are overreacting.
“I seem from reality and not the imagination.” He says that when he wants the legislator to leave the action as it is, it will not happen.
“The legislature has full authority to cancel an entire voting initiative if they want. That’s why we entered these negotiations while waiting for them to get started what we had done in Proposition 2,” he says.
Much of the criticism of the review is related to commitment from representatives of the Church of Mormon, protesting against Bill 2 but now supporting compromise.
gov. Gary Herbert, who plans to sign the bill, has defended the church seat at the table.
“I really believe the LDS Church has influence because most of Utah’s people, the majority happen to members of that church,” he said at a press conference this month. “But you can say the same if you were in Massachusetts about the Catholic Church.”
He said that the agreement they have made allows the state to control the availability and quality of the drug in a more medical environment.  “I do not know why anyone would oppose this,” says Herbert.
Julie King says she is and she will bring her daughter to the head of state on Monday to look at legislators.
“I joking told her,” I’ll show you how Utah’s politics work. A lot of white guys in costumes will stand up on a stage and they will congratulate each other. “”
King says that the latest version of the bill would create a pointing scheme for patients, something she is not sure she has time to deal with.
“Honestly, I tried to fight for the process properly – to get it medical and legal – and the reality is if this review passes as it exists,” she says.
I need to access it illegal and face the consequences. “