Lawmakers line up to replace the replacement for Proposition 2, Utah’s medical cannabis initiative

SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers are lining up to replace what the legislature is considering as a replacement for Proposition 2, the medical cannabis initiative voters approved last month.

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, has filed a substitute bill that largely enacts Prop. 2, but with a few technical changes. So has Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City.

Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, has also filed a substitute bill that enacts Prop. 2, but delays the dates that it takes effect and moves the “affirmative defense” to 2023.

As FOX 13 first reported on Friday, the “affirmative defense” of Prop. 2 has already taken effect, allowing qualifying patients to use some marijuana without a serious fear of prosecution — so long as it doesn’t violate provisions of the initiative. For example, smoking remains forbidden but vaping a cannabis product is OK, as is oils, creams and tinctures.

The legislature will meet in special session on Monday to vote for a “compromise” bill to replace Prop. 2. It was crafted after months of negotiations between opponents of the citizen initiative, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah Medical Association, legislative leadership and Prop. 2’s sponsor Utah Patients Coalition and the Libertas Institute.

The bill strips out some of the more objectionable provisions of Prop. 2 including “grow your own” and modifies the list of patient conditions. On Friday night, FOX 13 reported that lawmakers agreed to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, higher-ranking social workers and physicians to recommend medical cannabis to qualifying patients.

Based on the bill numbering, there is one substitute that has yet to be made public. But it remains to be seen if any of them will gain traction. House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, is personally running the medical cannabis substitute bill. He has repeatedly told FOX 13 he has the votes to pass it.

Under Utah law, the legislature has the authority to modify or even replace voter-approved initiatives. Many of the same lawmakers who will vote on the compromise were also re-elected on the same ballot voters approved Prop. 2.

Read the substitute bills here (refresh the page if it doesn’t immediately load):