Residents of Utah are set to go to the polls next month to vote on a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana, but it turns out their opinions may not actually matter.
Utah lawmakers, pro and anti-marijuana advocates, the state's governor and the Mormon Church reached an agreement yesterday on a bill to legalize medical marijuana. Governor Gary Herbert said he will call a special legislative session after next month's ballot initiative and, regardless of the result, will get this bill passed.
Essentially, if the ballot initiative fails, this bill will still legalize medical marijuana. But if the initiative passes, the Utah legislature will revise the initiative to more closely resemble the compromise deal. The new deal would not allow people to grow their own marijuana and it will not allow certain types of edibles that could appeal to children.
Pro-marijuana groups seem split on the compromise deal. Some pro-cannabis groups support it to avoid a complicated process if the ballot initiative passes where the state legislature could potentially butcher the new law. But others think that the will of the people in November should win out, and the new medical marijuana laws should resemble the initiative as much as possible.
It's also not clear how much resistance the ballot initiative will receive now. The Mormon Church previously opposed the initiative, along with several other groups and organizations. Will they still campaign against it or will they just ignore it knowing that this compromise deal will become the law either way?
Many are calling this a major development that a mostly conservative state would come to this type of agreement, but considering other more conservative states like Oklahoma have also legalized medical marijuana, this really doesn't seem to be that big of a breakthrough.
(h/t Associated Press)