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Medical Marijuana Still Smoldering in Utah

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Image Medscape.com

The legislative session ended with no action on medical marijuana, but lawmakers and advocates are already strategizing for their next moves.

It appears Utah is in for another round of medical marijuana proposals in the coming year. Representative Gage Froerer says he and supporters will put together a task force and plan on some new legislation. Representative Brad Daw says he plans to bring back the same bill that he worked on with Senator Evan Vickers.

"There’s no reason why we can’t come back next year, and hopefully have something that’s a little more polished, a little better, and a little bit more acceptance by the legislature,” Daw says.  

“I think what’s more likely to happen is the public isn’t going to stand for the legislature monkeying with patients’ lives again,” says Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute. Boyack wants to see a medical marijuana question on the ballot. He says time has run out to gather more than 101,000 signatures required to get on this year’s ballot, but there is time to organize for the 2018 elections.

“I think they’re going to see that there’s no reason to beg and plead the legislature to give them a smidgeon of what they want when the public is willing to give them what they need,” Boyack says.

In the meantime, Senator Mark Madsen who has sponsored medical marijuana bills for the last two years, is retiring and plans to move to South America. But Madsen says he’ll continue working on this through the end of the year. He says he’ll be helping to form a political action committee.

“The whole country, the whole world is looking at what’s happened in Utah,” Madsen says. “I think we can reach out, and we can find support, and we can bring resources into this state.” He says his first target might be the eight House lawmakers who voted against his bill in committee. “You can do a lot with a PAC and changing eight seats.”

Madsen says a number of like-minded libertarians are leaving the Senate next year, so he’s not sure if there will be anyone who will carry the medical marijuana torch. He says the best option for advocates may just be the ballot.

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