Fierce, last-minute attempt fails to keep medical cannabis measure off Utah ballot

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Medical marijuana Utah ballot, Fierce, last-minute attempt fails to keep medical cannabis measure off Utah ballot

An initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Utah has been certified for the November ballot. And it comes after a well-funded opposition effort fell just short of persuading enough people to drop their support.

If approved by voters, The Utah Medical Cannabis Act  would open up one of the country’s most conservative states to a legal MMJ market with licensed dispensaries, cultivators, processors and independent testers.

The initiative calls for no more than one dispensary for every 150,000 residents.

The Utah Patients Coalition collected plenty of signatures overall – 153,894 compared with the 113,143 needed.

But the group’s campaign director, DJ Schanz, pointed out that the initiative would have failed if it had lost a total of 100 more signatures in two key districts.

The coalition needed to collect a certain number of valid signatures in 26 of 29 districts; it did so in 27.

In an aggressive canvassing effort, Drug Safe Utah, led by the Utah Medical Association, persuaded 1,425 voters to remove their signatures.

Still pending is a lawsuit claiming the MMJ initiative violates federal law. The Mormon church in Utah also has taken a stand against legalizing medical marijuana.

Schanz said he’s not overly worried about the lawsuit.

“Luckily, 30 other states (across the county that have legalized medical marijuana) have been able to make a pretty good precedent on the arguments we are making.”