Signature gathering for ballot initiative on medical marijuana could start this weekend

Posted at 1:49 PM, Feb 16, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — A ballot initiative to bring medical marijuana to Utah could begin this weekend, with backers announcing an ambitious plan to gather signatures.

At a news conference Tuesday, supporters of Sen. Mark Madsen’s SB73 said they were anticipating the bill would fail in the Utah State Legislature, so they were pressing ahead with a voter initiative.

“If the citizens put this through, which they will, it’s really showing how much the people who represent us listen to us,” said Ryan Safsten.

Poll: Would you sign petition to legalize medical marijuana in Utah?

Safsten and other patients and advocates appeared at the Capitol to announce their efforts with some big backing — including people who had successfully gotten marijuana issues on the ballot in Colorado.

Other backers include Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, WordPerfect founder Bruce Bastian, and XMission President Pete Ashdown.

Christine Stenquist, a patient, said she remained optimistic that lawmakers would move ahead on SB73, but had heard it was “DOA in the House.” So they were planning to go ahead with signature gathering.

“That’s what it tends to be in most states. We were hoping to resolve this legislatively, but again, what tends to be in a lot of states is happening in our state,” she said.

It would be ambitious. Organizers said they would have to gather more than 107,000 signatures from 26 of Utah’s 29 counties by April 15 in order to make it on the ballot.