Compromise reached on establishing medical marijuana program in Utah

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Medical marijuana appears headed for Utah after a grand compromise was hammered out by parties involved in the contentious debate over MMJ.

A medical cannabis legalization initiative still will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot in Utah. But backers, lawmakers and opponents including Drug Safe Utah and the Mormon Church have agreed on a more restricted measure to be enacted by legislators after the election.

The compromise, which came after heated opposition that the initiative was too permissive, was dubbed a “shared vision” at a press conference Thursday.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said at the press briefing he would call for a special legislative session in November to enact the compromise agreement, regardless of the vote on the ballot initiative.

The compromise measure, according to the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune and the Associated Press, would:

  • Initially limit the number of dispensaries, called pharmacies, to five statewide, with a licensed pharmacist at each.
  • Establish a single, state-owned central pharmacy that would supply health departments with MMJ products with certain dosage limits.
  • Permit MMJ to be consumed as a tablet, capsule, concentrated oil, liquid suspension, topical substance, a skin patch, a sublingual pill, a chewable or dissolvable cube, or unprocessed marijuana flower packaged in a blister pack in which each blister contains no more than 1 gram.
  • Ban home cultivation.

Marijuana resin or wax could be used in limited circumstances, according to the Deseret News.

Chronic pain, which is the most common ailment among MMJ patients, would remain a qualifying medical condition under the agreement.

But it’s not clear how MMJ cultivation would be set up.

Leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature say the deal guards against the possibility of broad legalization. Medical marijuana advocates say they’re backing it to avoid continued fighting and uncertainty.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily