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Medical marijuana deal and special session announced

(Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – Details are being released about a compromise deal that would supersede Prop 2, even if the measure is backed by voters in November.

However, some lawmakers say they were left out in the cold when this deal was made.

Governor Gary Herbert says he will call a special legislative session for after the election so everyone can discuss the Utah Medical Cannabis Act.  It covers who can grow medical marijuana, who can process it, who can sell it and what kind of medications are allowed.

If the act passes, as is, there would be up to 20 cultivators sending the marijuana to processing plants.  After that, Governor Herbert says the final product would be sent out special stores.

“It will be done through specialized pharmacies and our local health departments,” Herbert says

Only five specialized pharmacies would be allowed to sell the drug, and only 13 local health boards would be able to supply it.

According to the Deseret News, things like gummies, lozenges, concentrated oils and tablets would be allowed, but, whole plants for smoking would not be available.

Prop 2, as it stands now, can’t be amended, and will stay on the ballot.  However, Gov. Herbert says the special session will happen whether the proposition passes or not.

“The legislature has been working on this for three years trying to find a way to do it.  The proponents of the initiative have said that we’ve waited long enough and we have needs now,” he says.

People who support the initiative say both sides of the debate have similar goals.

DJ Schanz with the Utah Patients Coalition says, “I think it was public safety and to alleviate the pain and suffering of patients.”

Several lawmakers say they’re in full support of the compromise.

Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser says, “I will do all that is in my power to make sure this compromise is passed in the November special session.”

However, Representative Angela Romero says the process behind this deal was not transparent.  She’s likening it to voter suppression, claiming people would be less likely to vote on Prop 2 if they know it’s not going to be adopted.

“I know that there are going to have to be fixes. I’m not debating that.  But, why have this press conference now?  I’m not trying to take away from the work that people have put into [the compromise], but, my concern is, how is this perceived by the public?” she asks.