Prop 2 to become law on Dec. 1, before special session to change it

Soon after Proposition 2 becomes law to legalize medical marijuana in Utah, the State Legislature plans to change it. (Photo: MGN)

(KUTV) — Proposition 2, Utah's medical marijuana initiative, will likely become law after ballots cast on Tuesday, but maybe just for a few days in its current form.

The Utah Elections Office said, under state law, propositions approved by voters take effect five days after the state canvasses ballot totals. The canvass will happen on November 26, 2018; five days later is December 1, and the Governor’s Office said it “anticipates a special session (to change Prop 2 language) shortly thereafter.”

The latest statewide vote tally showed Prop 2 winning, 53 percent to 47 percent. Many ballots, however, had not been counted yet on Wednesday.

Supporters, who were in a festive mood on election night, said the result was the culmination of years of hard work, and Prop 2’s passage signaled a new day to get medical marijuana for patients who need it.

But a key initiative opponent said the legal fight over medical marijuana may not be over.

“Whole plant marijuana itself is not really medicine,“ said Walter Plumb, a developer and member of Drug Safe Utah who spent tens of thousands of dollars against the initiative. “This is the beginning of the legalization of (recreational) marijuana in Utah.“

Plumb maintained lawmakers should raise the age for medical cannabis cards from 18 to 21, not force landlords to rent to card-holders, nor compel employers to hire them.

“If we don’t like it, I’ll challenge it,“ he said of a medical marijuana “compromise” worked out by Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, the LDS Church — which opposed Prop 2 — and some high-profile proposition-backers. The compromise is what the Legislature will take up in the special session.

But in the meantime, what happens between the time Prop 2 becomes law, and planned legislative changes to it?

The Utah Attorney General’s Office said it is “carefully studying the language to understand the details and ramifications.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Wednesday restated former positions it had taken on the initiative.

“Our expectation is that prompt legislative action will address the shortfalls of the initiative,“ said a statement from the church’s chief lobbyist Marty Stephens, a former Utah House Speaker. “The legislative alternative is better public policy and has broad support among Utahns.”

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