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What To Expect When The Legislature Votes On Medical Marijuana


Proposition 2 legalizing medical marijuana passed 53 to 47 percent but in October, a compromise was reached promising that the Utah legislature would legalize medical marijuana regardless of the voter outcome. A special legislative session will take place on Monday where state lawmakers will vote on the new language in a compromise bill. KPCW talked with Representative Tim Quinn about the differences between the new bill and the proposition 2 initiative and what can be expected with the legalization of medical marijuana here in Utah in the coming months. Carolyn Murray has this:

District 54 Representative, Tim Quinn believes the new bill will pass when it goes before Utah’s legislature on Monday. He said there were concerns from both sides about the original language under Prop 2. Quinn said they negotiated for about 30 hours before the election and his understanding is that both sides are happy with the outcome.

“Cause in that proposition, there were some flaws in it. There were some provisions that would have allowed for recreational use. There were some flaws in it in the fact that that it would have gutted or made void, 12 Medicaid statutes that we had on the books. So, we knew that legislatively we would have to go back in and make changes. Otherwise, people who had been receiving Medicaid benefits, certain Medicaid benefits, would have no longer been receivi9ng them because of what the statute did. So, they came together and said so if this is really about patient access and not about recreational use, then let’s do a better job at it. So, they call it a compromise, and I know that everybody does, so I’m not faulting anyone. But, it really wasn’t a compromise. It was just an opportunity to say let’s do a better job, if this is what we want, patient access, then let’s do a better job. So, that’s what they did. Wrote a 150-page piece of legislation."

Quinn said Prop 2 language allowed for recreational use of marijuana and he said the authors of the original ballot language wanted to eliminate that kind of use.  But, he said, there is an extensive list of approved conditions in the new bill along with flexibility for physicians to determine legitimate uses. 

“But, I believe there’s some language inthere that allows a doctor to make the determination that if it’s not on the list, he can still recommend it. Now, keep in mind, these are not prescriptions because it’s illegal from a federal standpoint. And he can still recommend it. And a pharmacist in conjunction with a patient and a doctor can still sell it. That should not be a concern of who would be able to use it as long as there is a true medical need. The only thing I am aware of to be different form the original language of prop 2 is there’s a licensed pharmacist that has to be involved now. It will not go through a CVS or a Walgreens or a Wal-Mart."

Quinn said the compromise the legislature made with the prop 2 organizers is a legitimate way of addressing problems with the original voter referendum and he has no problem reconciling this current process with the voice of Utah voters.

“I would square it in several ways. One is, we do not live in a democracy. The majority does not always rule. If there was a petition put on a ballot that had some outlandish result, I would think that most people would want the legislature to go back in and make some changes and tweaks so that it would conform constitutionally, it would conform with societal norms and values. In this one, both sides agreed that they would stop advertising. They all pulled their money back I think it was up to the last three weeks leading up to the election. And a lot of the people in my community, they were told and rightly so, that this vote would be an irrelevant vote. It didn’t matter the outcome. Event he people who wrote the proposition said, we need to do a better job and we’re not advertising for people to get out and vote. And, even if they do continue to vote for it, we don’t care. This needs to be rewritten. I think that gives us all the reasons to go back in and hopefully pass the compromise legislation.”

Quinn is confident the bill will pass in both chambers. He doesn’t expect to see other legislation besides the medical marijuana bill.

The legislature is schedule to convene Monday at 10 am at the capitol.   

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