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Medical Marijuana Opponents Drop Lawsuit To Stop Ballot Initiative

A pill bottle filled with marijuana.

Opponents of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Utah have dropped a lawsuit intended to block the measure. But they may still sue to overturn the law if voters approve it.


The non-profit group Drug Safe Utah filed a motion for an emergency injunction last Friday to stop the Lieutenant Governor from putting medical marijuana on the ballot. Now, the group said they’ll back off and let Utah voters weigh in this fall. In the meantime, Blake Ostler, an attorney for Drug Safe Utah, said they’ll keep making the case that the initiative is a bad idea.

“This is not a surrender,” Ostler said. “This is not putting the tail between our legs and running. This is informing the voters of the state of Utah that there are serious constitutional issues yet to be addressed. But trusting the voters of the state of Utah to make the appropriate decision.”

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act would legalize medical marijuana for people suffering from chronic diseases and pain. Opponents say it’s unconstitutional because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. They also argue the measure will lead to recreational use.  

Utah Patients Coalition is leading the ballot referendum. Director D.J. Schanz said he’s excited to let voters settle the matter.

“There’s 30 other states now in the union that have tread through this and had to go through the legal [rigmarole] to make this work,” Schanz said. “So there are ways in which we as a state can make it to where it is legal for these medical patients to gain access.”

A June poll by the Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics shows 66 percent of Utahns favor the initiative.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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