Herbert: “I Support the Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative Process”

Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Feb 17, 2016
Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Feb 17, 2016

When asked by reporters about his thoughts on the recent efforts by medical marijuana proponents to take their effort directly to the voters, Governor Gary Herbert enthusiastically stated, “I support the initiative petition process. I think it’s the way that the public can, in fact, introduce legislation if they’re not satisfied with what the legislature is doing. It’s an optional way to get things done, so I applaud that effort.”

Utah’s Governor continued to describe the challenge of the initiative petition route for creating law as a “High bar, as it should be, and it doesn’t go through the normal vetting process. Whatever you submit to the voters is what has to be put on the books. So I’m a little concerned about not being able to amend bills and modify and cut off some of the rough corners.”

But whenever the subject has come up, the Governor has not maintained any posture or position that would discourage the effort at making Utah the 24th state to adopt a legal framework to allow patients to be treated with the naturally occurring analgesic. “I think that there’s energy out there on this medical marijuana issue and I think that the discussion is timely. I’m hopeful that something positive will come out of this session that would maybe stay the need for a petition.”

In addition to the efforts of Senator Mark Madsen (Republican-Saratoga Springs) on his SB 73 – Medical Cannabis Act, Senator Brian Shiozawa (Republican – Salt Lake City) has recently introduced SCR 11 – Concurrent Resolution Urging the Rescheduling of Marijuana, which addresses the support for research of the analgesic properties of (non-combustible) marijuana derivatives.

Shiozawa’s resolution would address the rescheduling of marijuana from a  Class I to a Class II controlled substance and would emphasize longitudinal, scientific and academic study and standards. Shiozawa (an emergency-room physician) and his efforts could position Utah to become a “go-to” provider in the area of marijuana research for the rest of the nation.

When asked about the demographics that could be anticipated to get to the polls on such an issue, the Governor indicated that those Utahns who find voting an important responsibility would be reflective of the Utah electorate at large. The existing legislative initiatives are still making their way through the process of lawmaking, with floor debates likely to occur this week and next. If Madsen and his supporters have the votes at the statehouse, then the daunting task of collecting signatures for a ballot drive in Utah may be unnecessary.

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