Gov. Herbert says he will ‘actively oppose’ medical cannabis initiative

In this file photo, Gov. Gary Herbert addresses guests at the dedication of the new Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts on the Southern Utah University campus, Cedar City, Utah, July 7, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News/Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE – Last week Gov. Gary Herbert said he will “actively oppose” a medical cannabis ballot initiative. On it’s way to getting on the November ballot, Herbert said the initiative is flawed and that it could open the door to recreational marijuana use in Utah.

Herbert’s statement against what’s known as the Medical Cannabis Initiative was issued by his office Thursday. The statement followed the signing of HB 197, Cannabis Cultivation Amendments. HB 197 allows the state to grow marijuana for medical research and terminally ill patients. It was a companion bill to HB 195, which allows terminally ill patients a “right-to-try” to marijuana-based medications.

Read more: Governor signs law allowing terminal patients ‘right to try’ medical marijuana

“I fully support the science-supported use of substances that, under medical supervision, can improve lives,” Herbert said Thursday. “Consequently, I support efforts to allow medical researchers to better understand the medical properties of cannabis. That, in turn, will allow physicians and pharmacists to prescribe and dispense cannabis as a controlled substance in accordance to the highest standards of medical science. Our new law, HB 197, is an important first step in this effort.”

The Medical Cannabis Initiative, on the other hand, is “significantly flawed,” Herbert said.

“It lacks important safeguards regarding its production and utilization and would potentially open the door to recreational use,” he said, adding that he believes the ballot initiative, no matter how well-intended, will do more harm than good.

“Because our new law, HB 197, promotes medical science and public safety in ways absent from this initiative petition,” Herbert said, “I will actively oppose the Medical Cannabis Initiative.

Herbert’s worry is shared by many of Utah’s state-level lawmakers, including those in Southern Utah.

Read more: From concerns to outright opposition, local legislators address medical marijuana legalization

Rep V. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, previously said he believes the initiative to be “too lenient,” making it too easy for someone to get a medical cannabis prescription.

“If its medicine, then let’s treat it like medicine,” Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said on repeated occasions, referring to having regulations governing prescriptions and dosage.

In this file photo, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, speaks at an event at the Southwest Behavioral Center concerning the impacts of marijuana use and the 2018 medical marijuana ballot. Vickers does not support the initiative for various reasons, St. George, Utah, Jan. 17, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Vickers co-sponsored HB 195 and HB 197, both of which have been signed into law.

There are no shortage of claims concerning marijuana’s medical applications and its ability to ease pain related to various medical conditions. And while Utah lawmakers say they are empathetic to patient needs, they also say the bulk of these claims are anecdotal and lack needed scientific evidence.

Like Herbert, they are also concerned that the ballot initiative may open the way for recreational marijuana use in Utah.

While the state’s lawmakers have their doubts about the ballot initiative, a recent poll published by Utah Policy showed 77 percent of Utahns support the idea of legalized, doctor-prescribed medical marijuana.

According to the poll, 46 percent of Utahns “strongly” support legalizing medical marijuana where 31 percent are in the “somewhat” supportive range. Twenty-one percent of those polled were “strongly” and “somewhat” opposed while a remaining 3 percent responded that they “don’t know.” The poll’s margin for error is 4 percent.

The poll mirrors results of other medical marijuana polls held in Utah throughout 2016, which have typically garnered around 75 percent support.

Read more: New poll shows more than 75 percent of Utahns support medical marijuana ballot initiative

The Utah Patients Coalition, the group that introduced the ballot initiative last year, was not thrilled that Herbert opposed their efforts.

“While we appreciate the Governor weighing in on medical cannabis, his comments are another example of what Utahns have grown tired of: politicians standing between patients and their physicians,” said DJ Shanz, director of the Utah Patients Coalition.

Read more: Medical marijuana advocates file 2018 ballot initiative 

“Saying the most conservatively drafted initiative in the entire country would ‘potentially’ open the door for recreational use is a scare tactic that has no basis in truth,” Shanz continued. “Neither the Legislature nor the Governor should undermine the clear will of voters as demonstrated in over a dozen public polls. Utahns are ready to vote on this and set aside the misguided positions of elected officials who are apparently comfortable with criminalizing sick and suffering Utahns.”

Alliance for a Better Utah voiced its disappointment over Herbert’s decision over Twitter Monday.

The ballot initiative needs over 113,000 signatures to qualify to get on the November ballot. Last week the Utah Patients Coalition reported it had collected nearly 160,000 signatures.

The Utah Patients Coalition is currently in the process of getting those signatures verified in the counties they were gathered.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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20 Comments

  • aaron April 2, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    He is only doing this because the lds church, told him to oppose it or else.

    • mesaman April 2, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      Wrong! He is standing firm on stable grounds here. With nothing to judge the efficacy of marijuana treatment but anecdotal tales from those who are using it, such tales do not conform to scientific standards. These stardards would require pairing samples of users with a non-using samples matched for similar or identical medical diagnoses. Until it is proven that there is a medical advantage to prescribing this drug (still classified as an hallucinogenic) I stand with Governor Herbert. Otherwise it would appear that this 75% sampling you quote is composed, primarily of mid-life hippies who wish to take revenge on the rest of us.

      • Death Valley April 3, 2018 at 8:20 am

        mesaman, if you actually believe those words you just typed, the anti-cannabis propaganda machine is living inside your head, rent-free. People who have never tried cannabis or got the crap scared out of them when they did, talk like you do. This is 2018, not 1958. Reefer Madness has been debunked. Get with the times or get left behind, old man.

        • mesaman April 3, 2018 at 6:57 pm

          Since you are obviously one of the hippy retreads so I will ignore your stupidity as one of the results of getting stoned too often. I do hope your kiddy car is insured.

      • GrandmaB April 3, 2018 at 12:11 pm

        There is enough anecdotal information to count has hard core science regarding this plant. Try doing some historical research, the information is available. I would love to know how you reacted to the statements from big pharma about how benign opioid drugs are, and how hard you fought to keep them away from our kids, young adults and all other users. Oh, they aren’t addictive. Well, we know cannibis is not addictive. At least not physically, in the way opioids are, and I have NEVER heard of anyone OD’ing, to the death, on pot. It is time to let go of the rediculous attitudes of the 60’s.

        • mesaman April 3, 2018 at 7:05 pm

          Wrong Grandmab. Anecdotal evidence is never equal to scientific inquiry. As for your ignorance concerning the effects of extended marijuana use, it does cause dependency and as for OD implications it, specifically, does not cause neural overload but it does compromise judgement, reaction time, and spatial vision. Maybe you could contact the director of Southern Utah Health and inquire about the physiological effects of THC. If you would like to be instructed on the proper double blind methodology used to test the effects of THC, I’m certain google will help.

          • Death Valley April 4, 2018 at 4:12 am

            An ill-informed opinion is no way to go through life. How you made it this far is anyone’s guess. Your level of ignorance can’t be measured. I pity folks like you.

  • ladybugavenger April 2, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Just legalize marijuana!

  • Stephen Joe April 2, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    The mindset of Gary Herbert and the LDS church are stuck firmly in the 1950’s. Pathetic relics of the past.

  • Real Life April 2, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Against this, and .05 is now a DUI. Pathetic. Just move the governor office to the LDS headquarters already.

  • Connor April 2, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Don’t worry my friends God has a place for Satan and his minions. Evil is losing their grasp of control over the people but it is written.

  • Chris April 2, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    This what we get from the political party of “personal responsibility.” Republicans want to regulate what we put into our bodies and what vices we choose to indulge in. They love to talk about freedom of religion, but if you want to practice anything that offends their personal morality, they bring out the prohibitions. Hypocrisy is the hallmark of Republicanism.

    • Utahguns April 2, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Well, you’re sort of correct.
      The way I see it is:
      Hypocrisy is the hallmark of the Government.

  • utahdiablo April 2, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Or just drive to Mesquite, Wendover, or Colorado and buy as mush as you want and bring it on back….next issue?

  • Larry April 3, 2018 at 7:52 am

    What gets me is that all the nightly commercials on TV advertising the many (Synthetic) drugs we need to take… also mention that they can have worse side effects (from uncontrolled bleeding, explosive diarrhea and even death)….Yes, Worse than anything that will happen to you from taking any form of Medical MJ. But Herbert (aka–Available Jone$) would rather you take Opiates for relief…Brilliant man right there.

  • Death Valley April 3, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Again we see the power of the Mormon church throwing it’s obese weight around on the people of Utah.
    Mark my words: Utah will be the last state to *actually* legalize cannabis. FOR ANY USE!!!! These attempts to thwart the will of voters and at the same time claim to be a “medical” cannabis state will not fly for long. Herbert is a terrible governor.

    • comments April 3, 2018 at 11:20 am

      herbert is an opportunist. He’s just waiting for someone to put a big enough check $$$ in his hand on this issue…

      • Billy Bob Ray April 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm

        I do not expect marijuana to be legalized for medical use in Utah anytime in the next 20 years, and perhaps considerably longer. Utah politicians follow the bidding of one particular church, and that church will not allow legalization for any reason. They are acknowledging that human issues and suffering are not important to the leadership of that church.

        Marijuana is safer, more effective and less expensive than the medications obtainable from big pharma for treating certain conditions such as loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain management, etc.. Colorado’s opiate usage showed a significant drop following legalization of Marijuana in that state. Lower opiate usage means lower overdose deaths. As more people are being treated for various conditions using marijuana there will be further reductions opiate usage, addiction, overdoses and opiate related deaths.

        Medical marijuana presents a very big downside to big pharma. They would lose billions per year if marijuana were to be legalized for medical usage. I suspect that big pharma is paying huge sums to elected officials to prevent legalization.

        Full legalization of marijuana in Utah will be a long time away, if ever. But if that day ever comes there will be huge losses of revenue to alcohol producing companies as well as big pharma.

        As has been said, follow the money……….

  • Striker4 April 3, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    You won’t see legalized marijuana in this state as long as the LDS controls the government and that’s just how simple it is

  • GrandmaB April 11, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Mesaman – everything that Death Valley said. And I wouldn’t ask a Mental Health Care Professional how to go to the bathroom. After 50 years of working within social services, mental health and criminal justice, all I can say is you are so full of it, as are most of the so called professionals, which, I will give them, legally they have to be, as to be borderline totally ignorant. If you knew anything about THC, as you so blithely, write, you would not be just repeating the talking points of the current propagandists who have a financial interest in keeping pot illegal. And believe me, there are plenty of them. Just ask big pharma and the pain folks. They are scared to death. Talk about addictive.

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