Getting to good legislation by passing a bad proposition rarely turns out well. The best path is for Utahns to vote against Proposition 2 and then show the nation how real compromise and commonsense solutions can be achieved.
We continue to affirm being for medical marijuana and against Proposition 2 is a congruent and compassionate position. Alleviating the suffering of those struggling with illness and ailments can, and must, be done in a way that ensures informed access and provides safeguards for dosing and distribution.
Compromise legislation announced last week between the proponents and opponents of Proposition 2 could lead to a bill that will become the envy of, and model for, the nation. That is the Utah way. But voters risk getting confused between the proposition and the proposed legislation. Recent polling backs that up.
Utah voters overwhelming support the idea of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. It’s worth noting Utah passed two bills dealing with cannabis oils for specific treatments in the last legislative session. Concerning Proposition 2, Deseret News polling shows 64 percent of Utahns support it and 57 percent are concerned the proposition is a first step toward the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The numbers also show 42 percent strongly support and 21 percent strongly oppose Proposition 2. The poll indicates 42 percent of residents either somewhat support or somewhat oppose Proposition 2, and another 3 percent are completely undecided. This shows there are still many who are confused about what they are voting on and what the ramification of a yes or no vote might be.
Utahns will soon receive ballots for the November election. Proposition 2, as originally written with its 28 pages of legal text, will still be on the ballot. Despite consensus on a compromise bill that would supplant Proposition 2, the new bill is not binding, so how citizens vote on Proposition 2 continues to matter and could make a difference in how the compromise moves through the Legislature and to the governor.
Some clarity could be helpful:
Proponents of the proposition continue to urge people to vote in favor. Opponents, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns this paper, continue to oppose it and urge residents to vote against the proposition. But both sides have agreed to stop active media campaigns.
Some Utahns may ask, “If there is a compromise to fix the proposition in a special session after the election, does it matter if I vote for or against it?” It does matter.
Politics will come into play. If the proposition passes overwhelmingly, some organizations, including groups from outside of Utah, will apply immense political pressure on elected officials to “follow the vote of the people.” While both sides who came to the compromise have acted in good faith, there is some risk should the proposition pass. If the compromise bill were to fail in the special session, the fatally flawed Proposition 2 would become law, with home-grown marijuana, little oversight, no training for doctors, no pharmacies to dispense, no documentations, safeguards or support.
The compromise is commendable, and the bill that will be taken up in November’s special legislative session solves worrisome and potentially dangerous issues around doctors, dosing and the dispensing of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The bill applies the right restraints and regulations to protect teens and others from unintended consequences and enables law enforcement to do their jobs when it comes to those dealing in illegal, recreational marijuana.
It will be a great thing for Utah to get a medical marijuana solution. The greater good will be for Utah to compassionately alleviate patient suffering while also charting a course toward real reforms and medical marijuana laws that can be replicated across the nation. Voting no on Proposition 2, while holding the Legislature and governor accountable for passing the compromise legislation, will be Utah at its best.