cloudy
Friday December 14th, 2018 12:23AM

Groups sue to block medical marijuana compromise in Utah

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A pair of advocacy groups in Utah sued Thursday to block a compromise agreement legalizing medical marijuana, accusing the Mormon church of unconstitutional domination and interference in a process that led to the gutting of a measure approved by voters.

The lawsuit alleges the revised initiative creates overwhelming obstacles for suffering patients who want to obtain the drug. It also asks a judge to set aside the revision passed by lawmakers and keep the original version that won with 53 percent of the vote in November.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn't immediately comment.

Mormons have long frowned upon marijuana use because of a key church health code called the "Word of Wisdom," which prohibits the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. However, it previously stood behind the work it did to help craft the compromise before the election that it considers a safer medical marijuana program.

The changes signed into law on Monday ban many marijuana edibles; prevent people from growing their own marijuana if they live far from a dispensary; and narrow the list of eligible medical conditions for which the drug can be obtained. Smoking marijuana wasn't allowed in the original ballot measure and won't be permitted under the new version.

The legal challenge isn't a surprise. The plaintiffs — an organization called Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, or TRUCE, and the Epilepsy Association of Utah — had warned they would sue if the ballot measure was altered. They were upset that the primary organization backing medical pot in the state agreed to the compromise before the election.

Utah law gives state legislators the authority to change the language of laws passed by voters.

Supporters of the compromise, including some advocates of medical marijuana, say it was a key to guaranteeing quick legalization and convincing conservative lawmakers not to repeal the law.

The Utah Patients Coalition, the main medical marijuana group that backed the ballot measure, has said it agreed to the compromise so it could prevent radical changes to the measure after the election and to gain widespread community acceptance. It acknowledged that the Mormon church has a powerful voice in Utah politics.

About two-thirds of the state's residents belong to the religion and nearly nine in 10 members of the Legislature are Mormon along with the governor, the lawsuit states.

It says Mormons are taught to follow and trust the direction of their leaders, who opposed the ballot proposal over fears it could lead to broader use of marijuana. As the proposal seemed to gain support, the church agreed to the pre-election deal to allow access for people with serious medical needs.

The lawsuit notes that church lobbyist Marty Stephens told a gathering of local church leaders two days before the Nov. 6 election to "follow the prophet" and vote against the ballot proposition. The Utah Constitution bars any church from dominating or interfering with state functions, the lawsuit says.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed the revised compromise law Monday after he called a special legislative session.

He didn't comment on the lawsuit itself Thursday, but said the compromise restricting access has broad support in Utah.

"The concern we had was this is too loose, which leads to recreational marijuana," he said.

Patients can now use medical marijuana legally in Utah but likely won't be able to buy it legally in-state until at least 2020, officials said.

The state will need time to build a database to start issuing patients medical-cannabis cards, and to grant licenses for dispensaries.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Some California fire victims were already living on the edge
The future is uncertain for many of those driven out by the deadly wildfire in Northern California, but it's uniquely challenging for those who were homeless or nearly so even before the flames swept through
1:58PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Groups sue to block medical marijuana compromise in Utah
Advocacy groups in Utah sued to block a compromise agreement legalizing medical marijuana, accusing the Mormon church of unconstitutional interference in the gutting of a measure approved by voters
1:52PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Stocks plunge again as Huawei arrest renews China tensions
U.S. stocks are tumbling, knocking 400 points off the Dow Jones Industrial Average and placing the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its worst week since March.
1:51PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Family separations at border down, but dozens still affected
81 migrant children separated from families at the U.S.-Mexico border since Trump stopped large-scale separation policy in June
1:01PM ( 59 minutes ago )
Senators wrestle with rebuke of Saudis for Khashoggi killing
Senators are considering multiple pieces of legislation in an effort to formally rebuke Saudi Arabia for the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
12:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
UK leader may let Parliament decide on Brexit backstop
British Prime Minister Theresa May says she may let Parliament decide whether to trigger the controversial Northern Ireland "backstop" as she struggles to overcome opposition to her Brexit deal
12:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Democrat says he'll appeal to Walker to veto GOP power play
Wisconsin's incoming Democratic governor says he's willing to go to court if a Republican plan to restrict his powers is signed into law _ but he'll first ask GOP Gov. Scott Walker to veto the legislation
11:13AM ( 2 hours ago )
UK's Boris Johnson reprimanded for failing to report income
A British parliamentary committee has reprimanded former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for failing to report income within time limits set by Parliament
7:34AM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Evers to appeal to Walker to veto GOP power play
Incoming Wisconsin governor plans personal appeal to Walker to veto lame-duck bills
10:05PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
EKG, other heart health features come to Apple Watch
The latest software update to the newest Apple Watch, the Series 4, will now let people take EKGs of their heart and notify them when they have an irregular heartbeat
11:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
Judge's order didn't end family separations at border
81 migrant children separated from families at the U.S.-Mexico border since Trump stopped large-scale separation policy in June
11:30AM ( 2 hours ago )
Nobel laureates: Despite progress, cancer won't be wiped out
The winners of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine say they expect substantial advances toward treating cancer in the next several decades although it is unlikely the disease could be eradicated
9:44AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Health
Stocks plunge again as Huawei arrest renews China tensions
U.S. stocks are tumbling, knocking 400 points off the Dow Jones Industrial Average and placing the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its worst week since March.
1:51PM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: Bush motorcade arrives for funeral train trip
The hearse carrying the body of President George H.W. Bush has arrived at a Union Pacific facility north of Houston, where his casket will be placed on a special train that will take him to the city where he'll be laid to rest
1:40PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Prisoner swap deal bolsters hopes of progress in Yemen talks
U.N.-sponsored peace talks for Yemen begin in Sweden with Arab country's warring sides agreeing exchange prisoners
1:28PM ( 33 minutes ago )
The Latest: Public honors Bush on final trip through Houston
A Secret Service detail is accompanying the hearse that's carrying former President George H.W. Bush to his burial site
1:27PM ( 33 minutes ago )
NCAA reports FBS targeting penalties remain same as in 2017
NCAA reports number of enforced targeting penalties in FBS regular season same as in 2017
1:24PM ( 36 minutes ago )