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Medical cannabis group says it should be involved in talks over future bills

Posted at 1:09 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 16:43:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A medical cannabis advocacy group suing the state over the bill that replaced Proposition 2 said any future legislation over the issue should include them.

“We are watching the same cast of characters write the same bill again,” said Christine Stenquist, the founder of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE). “We still have problems with this law.”

TRUCE and the Epilepsy Association of Utah are suing the state over House Bill 3001, which replaced voter-approved Prop. 2 and created a state-run medical cannabis program. FOX 13 first reported earlier this week that Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill raised objections to the bill requiring county health departments to dispense medical cannabis, worried that county workers could face federal drug charges because marijuana remains illegal.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have said they are aware of the concerns and were working on solutions. The Utah Association of Local Health Departments said it has been told counties may be carved out of the dispensing system.

Reacting to the reports, Governor Gary Herbert suggested a special session could be called to address any problems with the law. Stenquist countered on Thursday that any future bill talks should include TRUCE and other medical cannabis advocates, who were excluded from the original bill.

“If we don’t want to waste another special session and taxpayers’ dollars, they would put us at the table with them so we can do this right,” she said.

Prop. 2 was replaced under a compromise bill negotiated between the initiative’s original sponsors, lawmakers and opponents, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

TRUCE has said it agrees with the county attorneys, and wants to see more privately-run dispensaries available (who run the risk of any federal prosecution, not the state). Stenquist said Prop. 2 envisioned a dispensary for each county plus more for heavy population centers.