Save Utah's voter-approved Prop 2 & voter rights!
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.
Medical cannabis is what Utah voters wanted, but not exactly what Utah lawmakers granted. And it appears the issue is headed to court — with no marijuana for waiting patients.
ByChris RobertsPublished on December 11, 2018
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On Election Day, voters in Utah approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana, only to have lawmakers replace the voter-approved plan with a watered-down version. It was a turnaround that left us wondering: Is the state is a theocracy run by the Mormon church, an anti-democratic sham government, or a combination of the two?
Whatever the answer, the more pressing question of how to best provide medical cannabis to sick people in one of the U.S.’s most conservative states now appears headed to the courts following a pair of lawsuits filed last week that challenge what’s been criticized as a “backdoor” deal.
And in the meantime, for the many thousands of people in Utah for whom medical marijuana could bring relief, there appears to be no clear path towards accessing medicine in the near future, aside from the black market.
Utah has a voter-initiative process, the most popular method by which both recreational marijuana and medical cannabis have been introduced in the United States. Months of positive polling in the state showed popular support that refused to dissipate, despite avowed opposition from the powerful Church of Latter-day Saints, not to mention some dirty campaign tricks. As such, voters duly approved Proposition 2, which promised to set up a viable if more restrictive than most framework for cultivating, distributing and regulating medical marijuana.
But Utah’s process is a little bit different in that lawmakers have the legal right to unilaterally amend whatever voters approved however they see fit.
And that’s exactly what lawmakers did when they passed a “compromise” bill on Dec. 3 that was even more restrictive than Proposition 2, following some weeks of closed-door negotiations between Gov. Gary Herbert and members of the state legislature, where critics say the Mormon church enjoys outsized influence.
As the Salt Lake Tribune reported, the new bill “significantly reduces” the number of dispensaries that can hope to open in Utah from 40 to just seven. Edibles are also almost entirely banned and the list of diseases or conditions that qualify a patient for legal cannabis use was also reduced to eliminate many autoimmune diseases included in the voter-approved version of medical legalization.
Both the deal itself and the way it was reached has led to criticism that direct democracy in Utah is “just a suggestion box,” as medical marijuana advocate Christine Stenquist told the Deseret News.
Stenquist is one of the litigants in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that also challenges the constitutionality of the cannabis compromise on religious grounds. Specifically, the suit accuses elected officials of violating a constitutional provision that bans any union of church and state.
The suit was filed by attorney Rocky Anderson, a former mayor of Salt Lake City, on behalf of the Epilepsy Association of Utah and Stenquist’s advocacy organization, Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education. Named as defendants are Gov. Herbert as well as Dr. Joseph Miner, a physician and the executive director of the Utah Department of Health.
“In direct contravention of the expressed will of the People, Governor Gary Herbert, at the behest of the Church, called a special session of the Utah Legislature on the earliest possible date — a mere two days after the effective date of the Initiative Statute — with the intent of undermining core purposes of Proposition 2 by radically reducing and burdening the access of patients to medical cannabis,” the suit claims.
“In further direct contravention of the expressed will of the People, as reflected in the majority vote for Proposition 2, the Legislature, at the behest of the Church and as a result of the Church’s domination and interference, voted to dramatically undermine core purposes of Proposition 2 and the Initiative Statute by radically amending, and essentially replacing, the Initiative Statute with the passage of H.B. 3001, which deprives, reduces, and unreasonably burdens access to medical cannabis; drastically reduces the authorization for private facilities to sell medical cannabis; and completely eliminates the opportunity for any patients to grow cannabis for their personal medicinal use, regardless of their lack of reasonable access to a medical cannabis dispensing facility,” it adds.
An initial court date for the suit was not immediately announced. But whether it is next week or next year may not be material to Utah cannabis patients, who can look forward to lengthy arguments without much hope of relief from cannabis unless they’re able to hop in a car and head to nearby Nevada or Colorado.
In other words, it’s more of the status quo.
I'm on heavy doses of opioid painkillers. I worry about dependence and addiction. I'd rather try medical cannabis, and we the voters won that right. But then the legislature and governor promptly imposed a law so burdensome that accessibility is likely going to be a problem, if not for the red tape and bureaucracy, then for the cost.
Our voice, as Utah voters, should have a power equal to the governor and legislature; they work for us! That's why I'm supporting TRUCE and this effort to protect our voice and our rights.
"You may have heard I'm one of those people suing the state of Utah over the changes the legislature made in Prop 2.
First, I should say I'm disgusted our elected representatives would ignore the voice of the people...the voters.
Second, Utah is home of smaller government and personal agency. Neither are apparent in HB 3001, but rather controlled by a legislative body that has been consolidating its power. (Example: the constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to call themselves into special session... this was done to allow the legislature the power to override the governor's veto of bills they voted into law.) The legislative branch is wielding unequal power over the other branches of state government.
In his complaint, our attorney Rocky Anderson quoted Justice Larson from 1937:
"The people themselves are not creatures or creations of the Legislature. They are the father of the Legislature, its creator, and in the act of creating the Legislature the people provided that its [the legislature's] voice should never silence or control the voice of the people in whom is inherent all political power; and being co-equal in Legislative power, the Legislature, the child of the people, cannot limit or control its parent, its creator, the source of all power.
And when the people, by the proper exercise of their initiative, their method of legislating, have spoken on a matter essentially within the scope of their government, master has spoken and even the voice of the child, though it may be recalcitrant, is stilled."
The legislature works for us, the people, the parents of the legislature. WE gave them the power they have.
What they did to Prop 2 may be legal under Utah law, but we feel the law is flawed.
And this is why we're fighting. Not just for access to medical cannabis, but to bring the state legislature back under control of the people."
The fact is that studies show legalizing medical cannabis does NOT do that - https://abcnews.go.com/Health/legal-medical-pot-lead-increased-teens-research-shows/story?id=53289278&fbclid=IwAR2_u0IQdm8gQc2sT_r7XLCF4ICPghb2ody__YTSTsVussevSWajhUOmlz0
What will keep today's ready access for kid as it is - or increase it - is a program that will serve too few patients with too much inconvenience at too high prices - which will drive patients to access cannabis in Nevada and Colorado and the black market in quantities that will fuel diversion to youth.
This law ironically will only defeat its own supposed reason for being while generally encouraging disrespect for law.
It should not stand!