Utah gov signs medical cannabis compromise bill passed by lawmakers

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(This story has been updated to note the governor signed the legislation.) 

Utah lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Monday to pass a medical marijuana compromise bill with more restrictive business provisions than the ballot initiative approved by voters Nov. 6.

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, signed the measure into law Monday night and said his administration would implement the law “as quickly as feasible.”

The compromise bill would allow up to seven MMJ pharmacies, while the voter initiative would have paved the way for about 20 dispensaries statewide.

The compromise legislation also bans home cultivation and requires dispensaries to employ pharmacists to recommend dosages.

“This bill is undoubtedly inferior to the law enacted by voters in November. However, Proposition 2 would very likely have been defeated without the compromise deal,” Matthew Schweich, Marijuana Policy Project deputy director, said in a statement.

MPP was involved in the negotiations to craft a compromise, which was hammered out before the midterm elections, then tweaked afterward.

Earlier Monday, Utah lawmakers rejected a Democratic effort to keep the voter-approved plan intact.

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck asked fellow lawmakers to “stay in our lane” rather than make changes to the original proposal.

Outgoing House Speaker Greg Hughes, a Republican, argued the compromise, reached by some medical marijuana advocates and state lawmakers, is an improvement on the initiative passed by voters.

Many advocates worry the compromise creates nearly insurmountable obstacles for patients seeking access to medical marijuana and are vowing to sue.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily