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Medical marijuana law in Utah to face immediate challenge

SALT LAKE CITY — The court fight over Utah’s new medical marijuana law is just beginning.

The plaintiffs who want to keep Proposition 2 would have to argue “you don’t have the right to come in and change that, and alter that, without some really sufficient good cause,” said Salt Lake attorney Greg Skordas.

“I think the legislature is going to have a hard time establishing that good cause,” he added.

Skordas says, if lawmakers can prove their compromise on lesser access to medical marijuana follows Utah law and promotes public safety, the courts could uphold it.

“The legislature is going to come in and say, ‘Look, we still need to figure out how to implement this. We still need to decide who’s going to be able to prescribe this,’” he said.

The compromise bill which Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah, signed into law removed a provision allowing patients living a certain distance from a dispensary to grow up to six marijuana plants.

It also narrowed a provision that gives a person an “affirmative defense” to marijuana use or possession charges if they can prove their medical need, despite not possessing a medical cannabis card.

Legislators worked with supporters and opponents of Prop 2 on the deal.

The group Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, or TRUCE, is among the parties suing the state of Utah to keep Prop. 2 as 53% of voters approved it on Election Day.

The medical industry is already looking at how to implement the new law, including setting standards for dosing.