If Proposition 2 passes, what will happen to the medical marijuana compromise bill?

Oct 10, 2018, 4:30 PM
Prop 2 would legalize medical marijuana, or cannabis, in Utah...
File photo of a medical marijuana display in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

A little over a week ago, supporters and opponents of Proposition 2, the so-called “medical marijuana bill”, came together to draft a compromise bill meant to replace it.

The original proposition, however, is still going to be on the ballot in November, and, so far, polls are suggesting that Proposition 2 will be passed.

It’s left Utah in a strange and confusing situation. The compromise bill was created to put extra measures on the original proposition, addressing concerns that Proposition 2 could make it too easy to buy marijuana for purely recreational purposes.

But if Proposition 2 passes in November, what will happen to the compromise bill?

KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic talked to Senator Todd Weiler and Deseret News Opinion Editor Boyd Matheson to find out which medical marijuana bill we’re really voting for in November. They shared their predictions about exactly what is going to happen to medical marijuana in Utah over the next few months and why they believe your vote still matters.

Proposition 2 is expected to pass

Proposition 2 supporters.

Proposition 2 supporter Desiree Hennessy cries during a press conference in support of the medical cannabis initiative campaign at Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 26, 2017. (Photo: Kelsey Brunner, Deseret News)

Despite the massive campaign that has been waged against Proposition 2, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formally encouraging church members to vote against it, the polls still suggest that Proposition 2 will pass in November.

64% of Utahns, according to a poll commissioned by Deseret News, say that they are “likely” to vote in favor of the medical marijuana proposition.

Most of those people seem to be firmly locked into their votes, too. Only 3% of the people who responded to the poll said that they were still undecided.

“It doesn’t mean everybody is locked and loaded, that there are no more conversations to be had,” Deseret News Opinion Editor Boyd Matheson says. He believes that there is still a chance that some of those planning on voting “yes” will change their minds.

Still, the smart bet right now is on Proposition 2 being passed. The medical marijuana bill has been wildly popular, and so far, nothing has been able to slow its momentum down.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s special session

Gov. Gary Herbert announces the compromise bill.

Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a press conference about an agreement between several opponents and supporters of Proposition 2, Utah’s medical marijuana initiative, at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

No matter what happens in November, though, Governor Gary Herbert plans on trying to pass the compromise bill.

Gov. Herbert has said that, whether Utahans vote for Proposition 2 or against it, he will hold a special session shortly after the November midterm elections to put the compromise bill through.

If his session works and the bill passes, it will effectively nullify Proposition 2. Every regulation set out in Proposition 2 will be superseded by the ones in the compromise bill.

That might make the vote in November seem pointless. After all, no matter how Utahans vote, Gov. Herbert is planning on using the compromise bill’s terms to legalize medical marijuana.

But there is no guarantee that the bill will pass in Gov. Herbert’s special session. There is still a chance, however small, that the legislature will throw the compromise bill out and stick with Proposition 2 – or, if people vote against it, keep medical marijuana illegal in Utah.

“It isn’t a binding agreement,” Matheson says. Until the people cast their votes, nothing about the future of medical marijuana in Utah is set in stone.

The compromise bill

Medical Marijuana

Regardless of whether Proposition 2 passes in November, Gov. Herbert says that he will still try to pass the compromise bill in a special session. (Craig F. Scott / Shutterstock)

Either way, Senator Todd Weiler believes that Utahans shouldn’t be worried about the compromise bill. The new bill, he believes, does not ignore the voices of those who voting “yes” on Proposition 2.

“Proposition 2 is not: ‘Should we pass medical marijuana,’” Sen. Weiler says, “it’s ‘how.’”

The new bill, he says, is simply an improved version of the original proposition. He says that it was written with the approval of the people who first put Proposition 2 on the ballot.

“About six months ago, the people who wrote Prop. 2 started saying, ‘We understand that this would have to be tweaked,’” Sen. Weiler says. “Those were the same people that were at the press conference last Wednesday with the governor saying, ‘We agree to this compromise.’”

The new bill is strongly modeled on Proposition 2, mainly modifying some of the less specific wording in the original proposition to address opponents’ concerns that it will effectively legalize recreational marijuana. You can read a breakdown of the differences at Deseret News.

But supporters and detractors are still calling on people to vote in November, even if they support the compromise bill.

To some, Proposition 2 isn’t just about the “should” or “how” of medical marijuana. It’s about making a statement; about making sure that politicians know exactly where they stand.

More to the story

If you missed Dave & Dujanovic’s interviews with Sen. Todd Weiler and Boyd Matheson, you can still catch the whole conversation commercial-free on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Play Music

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If Proposition 2 passes, what will happen to the medical marijuana compromise bill?