While Utah Gov. Gary Herbert didn’t exactly predict when “they” would legalize medical marijuana, he did inform a middle school classroom full of kids, “I think it’s going to happen.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Herbert received a rather intriguing question from an inquisitive student at Riverton middle school. There to support the student’s hard work and civil engagement, Herbert provided a rare opportunity for a small group of future voters to ask a broad-spectrum of thoughtful questions.
Queried by the teens about Utah’s swelling population, and its residual urban sprawl, Gov. Herbert was eventually asked by one inquiring mind whether the state would legalize medical marijuana.
Ben Winslow, a Fox 13 Now reporter, was on hand for Wednesday’s Q&A.
“I think they will” legalize medical marijuana, @GovHerbert just said answering a student’s question on the topic. All of the adults in the room just raised their eyebrows at that proclamation. “I think it’s gonna happen.” @fox13 #utpol pic.twitter.com/EgYWMcNrs1
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) January 3, 2018
After declaring that medical marijuana will eventually be legalized in the Beehive State, Winslow tried to ask Gov. Herbert an important follow-up question: would medical marijuana be legalized through the legislative process or through the passage of this November’s medical marijuana ballot initiative?
Deferring to science and citing federal concerns, the governor clarified his position:
“Let’s get the science done, the research done, have it as a controlled substance prescribed by a doctor, and certified by a pharmacist as a controlled medical substance. I think that’s the way to go.”
Sadly for those suffering from a host of debilitating diseases, cannabis is currently categorized as a Schedule I narcotic within the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Which seems more than a little odd to the angry mob of sick and suffering voters in the Beehive State when the United States Department of Health and Human Services has a patent on the plant’s cannabinoids as a treatment for a host of neurological diseases.
Up for debate over the last two years by the Utah legislature, the state’s elected officials have anxiously pondered the medical marijuana question while ignoring the will of the people.
According to an October 2017 poll performed by Dan Jones and Associates and published by the Salt Lake Tribune, an overwhelming majority (75%) of Utahns support the manufacturing, prescription, and sale of cannabis products in nonsmokable forms. But so far, Utah’s lawmakers have resisted acknowledging the wisdom of the request.
— Utah Patients (@utahpatients) January 4, 2018
In need of 113,143 signatures before April 15, the Utah Patients Coalition announced Jan. 3 they have gathered 85,000 of the necessary signatures.
Utah’s attempt to legalize medical marijuana was first rejected by the Utah State Senate in 2015 – by a single vote. Undeterred by that narrow defeat, in 2016, two bills were written to legalize medical marijuana in the Beehive State. Senate Bill 89, which was authored by Sen. Evan J. Vickers (R-72nd District) and Rep. Brad M. Daw (R-60th District), and Senate Bill 73 authored by Sen. Mark B. Madsen (Libertarian-13th District) and Rep. Gage Froerer (R-8th District).
While both bills were passed by Utah’s Senate, S.B. 73 was ultimately defeated by the Mormon church’s opposition, and S.B. 89 ran out of time when Utah’s lawmakers adjourned the 2016 legislative session without passing it.