Two days after Utah's medical cannabis went into effect, the state legislature on Monday replaced it with a tightly controlled plan for providing marijuana-based treatment.
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act, designed to replace voter-approved persons. Proposal 2, chaired by the Utah House of Representatives and Senate during the Monday Special Session. The one-day gathering of state legislators has been in progress since October, when Governor Gary Herbert announced that supporters and opponents of Prop 2 had come to a consensus on a legislative solution to their disagreements.
In both chambers, votes had largely failed on a party line, with Democrats arguing that the legislature should not override voters who supported the electoral initiative in last month's elections.
Speaker Greg Hughes, who defended the bill, argued, however, that legislation was the fruit of inclusive considerations. This has unfolded publicly and privately over many hours.
"I am proud of the process we have gone through, that we have held more public formal hearings and informal hearings than any of the bills we have done so far," he told members of the House on Monday
The measure passed the House at 60-1
The legislative and both sides of the Prop The 2 debate revises the medical cannabis distribution system proposed by the electoral initiative and incorporates a more robust oversight and follow-up plan.
Legislation acts as a bridge between opponents from Prop 2 like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah Patients Coalition, the group that led the initiative and the medical marijuana community, and some of the patient's supporters felt that the UPC would sign the alternative to Prop 2.
Bill critics say it would curtail Utah's medical marijuana program in bureaucracy and block too many patients from receiving cannabis treatment.
But Connor Boyack, an attorney for the medical marijuana group, who participated in the law passed on Monday, said the legislation was a workable solution to the debate on cannabis in the state.
"For years, we have been seeking a balance between political concessions and pushing the needle for medical freedom as we could. This negotiation outcome is a decent balance to get the program going, "said Boyack, president of the Libertarian Libertas Institute, in a prepared statement. "This result prevented a thorough suppression of Prop 2, in contrast to what we have seen in the past and in the future on other issues." the measure approved in the ballot box. "We urge state legislators to honor the will of the population regarding medical cannabis legislation. Regardless of their personal political preferences, lawmakers should respect that a majority of voters approved Proposition 2, "said Chase Thomas, executive director of the progressive non-profit organization, in a prepared statement.
The bill reduces the number of private individuals Doctors significantly marijuana outlets versus Prop 2, while the election initiative would allow up to 40 dispensaries, but the legislation allows only seven so-called cannabis pharmacies Most of the distribution would be governmental, with cannabis orders being delivered by patients to local health departments for collection
While Prop 2 tolerated edible foods, it largely banned the bill, although it makes an exception for gelatin cubes.The legislation also improves the list of diseases that are eligible for cannabis treatments and eliminates most autoimmune diseasesExcept for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Following the adoption of the bill, the Marijuana Policy Project published a statement arguing that the legislation Prop was 2, it is still better than the alternative.
"This bill is undoubtedly under the law passed by voters in November. However, proposal 2 would probably have been defeated without the compromise agreement that prevented an attack on opposition spending, "said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the MPP, in a prepared statement." The proponents have made the responsible decision to negotiate with the opponents and to ensure this The patients had no access to medical cannabis.
During the debate in the House Floor, MEP Rebecca Chavez-Houck offered her own bill, one that would have retained most of Prop 2 while making some technical corrections that it feels necessary.
When state voters speak the way they did about the proposal, lawmakers should "stay in our lane," she said. The legislators of Utah preach not to act as a nanny state and regulate the lives of residents Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, went on.
"But when I look at what we do … it flies in the face of this argument," she said.
While her Democratic colleagues were lagging behind her proposals She was rejected by the Republican majority.
Members of Parliament also discussed provisions on the bill that require patients between the ages of 18 and 20 to seek the approval of a compassionate consultation body before they could qualify for cannabis treatment. In general, patients 21 years old and older would only need to seek referrals from their own doctors, and several legislators said that younger people need to jump through an extra tire is unnecessary and potentially harmful.
"If I have an 18-year-old in my ward who is in a hospice, I can not understand that you can not have access to this medicine for comfort reasons," Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City said.
Hughes The artisans of the legislature chose 21 as a threshold because they would treat them as adults elsewhere in the law.
A change that would have removed the extra step for patients 18 to 20 failed in a house vote.  In the Senate, Republicans defeated several attempts by Democrats to change the law. Some of these proposed changes – such as the Senate's demand to ratify members of the Compassionate Use Board – were acclaimed by the sponsor and other members of the majority, but were postponed to the January General Assembly for consideration.
"I would like to have an opportunity to vote on it," said Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, "but I can not do it today.
Other changes, such as two replacements D-Salt Lake City proposed by Sen. Jim Dabakis, were received less favorably by the majority.Dabakis spoke at length about the majority of the public's approval of Prop 2 and suggested that the replacement bill be an "amazing" one. Government involvement in medical marijuana creates.
The expansion of government under the bill, Dabakis says, is beyond Democrats "In their wildest dreams."
"This state has by no means created this kind of bureaucracy in one fell swoop Dabakis said, "What are we doing?"
Republican senators questioned the need to postpone the public vote on Prop 2 due to the accumulation of "yes" votes in Salt Lake County and the city center The initiative mostly defeats counties and senate districts, even though they have gained a majority nationwide  Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said his primary responsibility rests with voters in his district who opposed Prop 2.
"The fact that a majority vote in the state of Utah is an important factor," said Bramble. "But we represent our districts."
Several senators suggested that medical marijuana in Utah would be similar to state alcohol regulations, with regular, almost yearly, adaptations to the state codex on a permanent basis.
"This is far from the case A closed deal," said Senator Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi.
The Tribune reporter Benjamin Wood contributed to this report.