Group Seeks Emergency Injunctions in Fight Over Utah Medical Marijuana Law

Latest shots fired in ongoing medical marijuana saga in Utah, pitting voters and patient advocacy groups against the state’s lawmakers.

Over a month after voters approved medical marijuana in the 2018 midterm elections, the future of Utah’s medical marijuana program is still undecided, with a pair of emergency injunctions seeking to undo the legislature’s replacement bill.  

Back in August, Utah voters were polled regarding medical marijuana, and 77 percent of those who responded supported Proposition 2, the voter initiative to create a medical marijuana program in the state.

With medical marijuana polling as well as it was, it was little surprise that Proposition 2 passed during the midterm elections.

So little, in fact, that the Utah state legislature had already begun drafting a replacement law, The Utah Medical Cannabis Act, which would limit the scope of the state’s medical marijuana program, despite overwhelming support.

Being called a “compromise” bill, lawmakers and key stakeholders on both sides of the medical cannabis debate found a common ground set of regulations to replace those set forth under Proposition 2. The Utah Medical Cannabis Act was passed in a special session shortly after the midterm elections.

In the most recent development, a group called The People’s Right has filed two injunctions with Utah’s top court to save Proposition 2. The first injunction asks the The Utah Medical Cannabis Act be thrown out, reverting back to the voter passed Proposition 2. The other requests that the choice between Proposition 2 and The Utah Medical Cannabis Act be brought to the voters. The state’s Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s office has blocked the request for a referendum, but The People’s Right is pushing forward.

This is the second group challenging the state legislature over The Utah Medical Cannabis Act. Together For Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), a medical marijuana advocacy group, is suing Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Dr. Joseph Miner, the executive director of Utah’s Department of Health.

Together with the Epilepsy Association of Utah, TRUCE is seeking an injunction against the state to prevent them from moving forward with The Utah Medical Cannabis Act. They are instead asking to revert back to the program created in voter approved Proposition 2.

“If there is any meaning in our Constitution as to the people’s right through direct democracy to pass initiatives and hence legislation, it’s got to mean way more than the bill is there one day and defeated by the legislature two days later,” said TRUCE attorney Rocky Anderson.

Despite these challenges to The Utah Medical Cannabis Act, the state’s government is moving forward, taking steps to establish its medical marijuana program. Just this week, a job posting for a “Cannabis Program Manager” was added to the government’s website. Part of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Food, the position will oversee the state’s medical marijuana and commercial hemp programs.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana patients and advocates are left waiting to learn which regulations will determine their access to medical cannabis. Follow our news feed to keep up to date with this developing story.