Utah Cannabis Legalization Moving Forward Without Interim

The initial findings from a state-funded research into the medical qualities of cannabis could be presented to Utah Lawmakers as early as the legislative session at the beginning of 2018, according to the organization charged with carrying out the study.

“Hopefully there will be some preliminary data that can be shared during the legislative session this year,” Ivy Estabrooke, director of the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, told the Deseret News.

Estabrooke warned that a complete report on the study’s findings would not be presented with findings until late spring or early summer of 2018.

The full report will be publicly available in the months leading up to a potential decision by Utah voters to legalize cannabis for medical use in the state.

The Utah Patients Coalition, the name of the campaign seeking such legalization, told the Deseret News that local organizers are quickly closing the gap on needed signatures required to get the issue on the Utah Ballot in November 2018.

DJ Schanz, director of the coalition, stresses his optimism that all needed signatures for the ballot will be collected by January 2018, well before the April 15, 2018 ballot initiative deadline.

“We feel that we’ve done a good job of messaging and bringing this message directly to the people,” Schanz said.

So far, the Utah Patients Coalition has gathered about 50,000 signatures, he said. Volunteers are responsible for securing about two-thirds of those, while paid signature gatherers have obtained the rest.

“We (have) an enormous amount of support,” Schanz said.

Medical cannabis advocates have contended the ballot initiative is a necessary move in order to get Utahns access to the medicine after efforts to legalize it for medical use appeared to stall the Utah Legislature. State lawmakers introduced two bills in 2016 that would have legalized medicinal use of medicinal cannabis to varying extents, but both ultimately failed. No such bills were introduced in 2017.

Multiple polls have shown the Utah Patients Coalition that support for approving medical cannabis remains strong statewide, with as many as 3 in 4 Utahns being in favor of it.

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