A few weeks ago, Clark Caras stood up in front of thousands of Utah GOP state delegates and asked them to pass a resolution in support of medical marijuana.
Caras recently lost a family member he was close to, who died of cancer, and believes access to the plant would have greatly improved the last months of his life.
That resolution was voted down, 70 percent to 30 percent — and it’s far from the first time the issue has faced opposition in the Beehive State.
For years now, the Utah Legislature has labored over the question of whether or not to legalize medical marijuana. In 2014, the Legislature chose to legalize a marijuana extract for use in controlling epileptic seizures.
In 2016, two laws which would have legalized medical marijuana — to differing extents — both passed through the Utah Senate, but never reached a vote in the House of Representatives. And in the 2017 session, the only marijuana legislation passed allowed only for studies to take place, which could take years to yield results.
Despite the Legislature’s hesitancy to act on medical marijuana legalization, Utahns may have the chance to vote on the issue directly in the form of a ballot initiative in 2018.
“Having tried multiple times to persuade the legislature to help these people and facing significant resistance, we think it’s best now to give the public a chance to decide for themselves,” said Connor Boyack, who is acting as a consultant for the ballot initiative. Boyack has previously advocated for medical marijuana in his role as the president of Libertas Institute, a Libertarian think tank.
The process to put the issue to Utah voters is an extensive one, which includes gathering more than 113,000 signatures from multiple regions of the state.
When it comes time