Both fans and foes of Proposition 2 have said they will continue to press their case when state lawmakers meet soon in special session to rewrite the marijuana initiative voters apparently passed Tuesday by a narrow margin.
But lawmakers should be undeterred.
The main forces both for and against Proposition 2 agreed last month to a compromise that was to be presented to the Legislature shortly after Election Day. These forces are not the ones now advocating for something different. They don’t speak for the main participants in the initiative drive and they should not carry the day.
As part of the compromise agreement, both sides agreed to cease advertising, although they continued, when asked, to advocate for voters to either accept or reject the ballot measure.
No one knows how this may have affected the eventual outcome. The lack of a vocal, well-funded opposition may have led some to vote yes when, with a bit more education, they might have voted no.
At press time, the yes vote on Proposition 2 was leading by a 53 percent to 46 percent margin. Although the number of ballots remaining to be counted was higher than the margin separating the yes and no votes, it appeared likely the measure would pass.
But it would be unwise for lawmakers to turn their backs on a sensible and groundbreaking compromise — one that could be a model for other states to follow. Not only that, it would be dangerous.
Proposition 2 contains too many loose ends, making it difficult for law enforcement to differentiate between legal, medicinal uses of the drug and illegal possession. This, in turn, would make it more likely that minors would have access to marijuana. Research is clear on the damaging affects this could have on developing minds.
The compromise, on the other hand, makes certain that the medicinal value of marijuana is delivered to those who are suffering, and in forms that could do them the most good. Even whole flower versions of the plant would be available in one-gram amounts.
The bill specifically would list the illnesses that qualify for this treatment, with room for exceptions decided by a compassionate-use board. A loose dispensary system would be replaced with up to five cannabis pharmacies statewide, augmented by county health departments. Patients would need prescriptions to obtain access.
Gone would be the proposition’s rules allowing people to grow their own marijuana under certain circumstances and the confusion over what is legal and what isn’t.
Many voters may have been unaware of the details in Proposition 2. Many of them likely were motivated to support it out of a desire for compassion. Ironically, however, the proposition could lead to more suffering as the drug becomes readily available in Utah.
An updated version of this compromise has been published. The changes it makes are minor, however, and do not affect the heart of the deal.
Some people believe the compromise goes too far. They want a more restrictive measure.27 comments on this story
On the contrary, it draws a careful line between compassion and the careful control of distribution.
We understand political realities. Some lawmakers may be concerned about ignoring the supposed “will of the people” by changing a proposition voters approved. But the initiative process allows for only up or down votes on someone else’s proposal. Good lawmaking involves hearings, amendments and alterations by the people’s representatives.
That process already is underway. The compromise on the table is a result of give and take from both sides. We urge lawmakers to turn it into law.