A group of advocates launched a ballot initiative Monday, hoping to bypass Utah’s conservative legislature and appeal directly to Utah voters to legalize the use of medical marijuana. But at least one Utah lawmaker suggests that because of the complexity of the issue, the initiative may not be any more successful than legislative efforts.
State Senator Evan Vickers, a pharmacist from Cedar City, has been at the forefront of the Legislature’s exploration of medical marijuana.
"We did some really good things last year. We formulated plans and put money into research. In fact, we met with researchers at the [University of Utah] last week when I was in Salt Lake. They have an absolutely excellent double-blind study on pain."
The initiative uses as its basis a bill already considered by the legislature.
"The ballot initiative they are using goes back to Senator Madsen's bill from a couple of years ago," he said. "If you look at it and look at it in depth and in detail, there's a lot of moving parts in it, it's fairly permissive."
With that broad, permissive foundation, Vickers predicts the initiative will meet plenty of opposition.
"You’re going to see the Utah Medical Association come out and pose an opposition," he said. "You're going to see the LDS Church most likely come out in opposition, you're going to see law enforcement, you're going to see health and behavioral sciences and drug abuse people. You're going to see all of those groups come out in opposition. Where it ends up, I don't know."
Indeed, the LDS Church has issued a statement stating that its belief that “society is best served by requiring marijuana to be subject to the same research and FDA scrutiny as other drugs before being permitted for medical use.