Talks under way on Utah’s Capitol Hill for compromise on medical marijuana, but no deal yet

Posted at 9:57 AM, Oct 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-03 18:14:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Talks are under way on Utah's Capitol Hill for a "compromise" on medical marijuana regardless of whether Proposition 2 passes or fails in November.

Representatives of Drug Safe Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Utah Patients Coalition, Libertas Institute and House Speaker Greg Hughes have been meeting regularly.

"Sides are close, but talks are still ongoing," Greg Hartley, the chief of staff to Speaker Hughes, told FOX 13 on Wednesday.

The LDS Church's lobbyist, Marty Stephens, confirmed in a recent statement to FOX 13 through the Church they have been involved in the talks.

"As we have said from the beginning, the Church is willing to work with other community members to help find a good solution to this important issue. At the invitation of the Speaker of the House, the church is participating in conversations with a number of other groups and organizations regarding medical cannabis. We are hopeful these discussions will lead to a good solution for all Utahns, particularly the patients, children and their caregivers who deserve our very best effort," he said.

The LDS Church, a powerful influence on Capitol Hill, has said it does not oppose medical cannabis itself, but does oppose Prop. 2.

The Utah Patients Coalition, which is sponsoring Prop. 2, also has been involved in discussions alongside the libertarian-leaning think tank Libertas Institute. Most recently, Together For Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), which has also advocated for medical marijuana legislation on Capitol Hill, has pushed to meet with the Speaker to ensure patient voices were heard.

FOX 13 has been told the goal of the talks would be to find some kind of compromise legislation so that if Prop. 2 passes in November, it can fix problems that may arise with the initiative. If the citizen referendum fails, lawmakers would be able to pass a cannabis program to provide treatment to people who may benefit from it.

The legislature would not be able to take it up until January, but Gov. Herbert has signaled he may call lawmakers into special session in November -- but not before the people vote on the issue.