On November 7th, 2018, 53% of Utah voters passed Proposition 2 granting patients access to medical cannabis. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then arranged for Utah Governor Gary Herbert to call a special session of the Utah Legislature on December 3rd in order to adopt a replacement bill that significantly reduces patients’ access to medical cannabis while directly contradicting the will of Utah’s voting majority. The substitute bill also provides for the State of Utah to obtain and distribute cannabis, but places medical providers and pharmacists at risk by stipulating that “dosing parameters” be provided, essentially requiring prescriptions for a Schedule 1 controlled substance that are in clear violation of federal law.
In an effort to restore both patients’ rights and voters’ rights, former Salt Lake City Mayor and attorney Rocky Anderson is representing the nonprofit organizations TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education) and the Epilepsy Association of Utah in a lawsuit against Governor Herbert and the Utah Department of Health for their roles in the adoption and enforcement of the unconstitutional replacement bill.. The suit is also filed on behalf of a patient whose life has likely been saved by using cannabis and a devoted father who is the caregiver for his daughter for whom cannabis has been effective in reducing the number and severity of her seizures. Together, we are seeking the reinstatement of Proposition 2, the bill supported by the People.
Utah patients need your help to defend and restore their hard-won Prop 2 medical right to use cannabis in their treatment plans. Additionally, Utah citizens need your help to defend and restore their constitutionally assured right to vote and directly legislate through the initiative process, as the Utah Constitution provides.
While Utah’s super-majority Republican Legislature argues it has the right to amend and overturn laws, including those passed by ballot initiative (defeating the initiative right provided by the Utah Constitution), written and verbal communications by leaders of and lobbyists for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirm the Church’s hand in forcing the replacement bill and guiding the legislative interference that led to its rapid adoption.
Because of a history of theocracy in Utah before statehood, the Constitution of Utah specifically states that no church shall “dominate the State or interfere with its functions.” While Utah’s population is estimated to be 61.55% Mormon in 2018, over 85% of the members of Utah’s legislature are active members of the Church. Utah is considered one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation. With other voter approved initiatives (including the recent passage of Prop 4, which combats gerrymandering and defines fairer district boundaries) threatened with the same fate as Prop 2, Utah voters must demand that when interference and control by the Church is proven and when the Legislature demonstrates disdain for the democratic process, we must fight for our right to restore voter approved initiatives such as Prop 2.
To be sure, this lawsuit is not a condemnation of religion or of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is simply affirmation for the protection that all voters and citizens deserve – that no organized religion shall interfere with our Constitutional right to fair and democratic process.
If won, this lawsuit has the potential to set a vital precedent in Utah; it may go all the way to the Utah Supreme Court, and perhaps beyond, in order for the People and democracy to prevail. The fight is expected to be very lengthy and expensive and will require significant financial support to cover numerous filing fees and thousands of hours of legal work, which are being billed at an enormous discount.
Your donation is not only a meaningful gesture of support for Utah’s patients – including veterans, autoimmune disorder sufferers, the elderly and anyone under 21 – who will now suffer severely restricted and complicated access to the medical cannabis they desperately need. Your donation is also a vote for democracy. Whether you live in Utah or elsewhere, please support us in advocating for the democratic process and for patients’ rights.