77 percent of Utah voters support medical cannabis legalization


Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

A new Utah poll shows 77 percent of voters somewhat or strongly support the legalization of medical cannabis.

A proposed medical cannabis legalization initiative was filed in June by the Utah Patients Coalition, and would allow the use of medical cannabis in the form of edibles, oils, and topicals.

This past week, the coalition held 10 public hearings across the state on the proposal. Supporters must now collect 113,143 signatures from registered voters, requiring submission by April 15 if supporters want it on the ballot for November 2018 elections.

A state-commissioned analysis showed the law would run Utah $400,000 per year, after startup costs of $1.1 million.

The poll found more than three-fourths of both men and supported the initiative. Within the error margin of 3 percent, 65 percent of Republicans back the measure compared to about 97 percent of Democrats who favor the bill.

Utah lawmakers decided against legalization last session with the uncertainty of whether the Trump administration would enforce federal cannabis laws. Instead, they passed a measure to fund research on the potential benefits of medical cannabis.

Lawmakers passed a 2014 measure which allowed residents with severe epilepsy disorders import whole-plant cannabidiol extracts from states where medical cannabis is legal. According to the Utah Health Department, 166 cards were issued between July 2014 to October 2016.