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BREAKING: Medical marijuana initiative approved for the November ballot

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FILE - This Feb. 1, 2011, photo shows medical marijuana clone plants at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. AP FILE PHOTO.

(KUTV) -- The Utah Medical Cannabis Act made the November ballot while the Count My Vote initiative failed to receive enough certified signatures to allow voters to cast ballots on the subject, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced in a tweet.

Cox posted a letter detailing the law in regards to the statewide initiative signature gathering process. He explained:

To qualify for the ballot, an initiative must have more than 113,000 voter signatures — 10 percent of votes cast for president in the most recent election — that meet specific thresholds in at least 26 of Utah's 29 state Senate districts.

Strong opposition by heavy hitters, including the Utah Medical Association and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, did not thwart the medical marijuana initiative that received nearly 154,000 signatures qualifying it for the November ballot.

Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute, issued the following statement about the medical marijuana initiative making it onto the ballot:

Today's announcement is victory for patients and their supporters—including our organization—who have worked hard for years to make sure Utah law does not treat patients as criminals.
While the Legislature has only been willing to support incremental steps that help few patients, the public has consistently been willing to support a broader program that helps thousands of sick and suffering Utahns find the relief they and their physicians believe cannabis might offer.
We are pleased to learn that our opposition's shady tactics to remove signatures and mislead the public about what's in the Utah Medical Cannabis Act were unsuccessful. We respect those with differing opinions, but believe it's time for Utah voters to take the issue into their own hands and change this unjust law that criminalizes our loved ones and neighbors.

Other initiatives that voters will see on their ballots include Medicaid expansion to cover 70,000 low-income families and the creation of an independent redistricting commission, which was proposed by Better Boundaries.

In a prepared statement, Utah Health Policy Project executive director Matt Slonaker said in part:

We at UHPP have worked very hard over the last five years to fully expand Medicaid in Utah. After engaging with countless Utahns who fall into the coverage gap, while seeing the robust effect that expansion has had on other states, we are thrilled to have achieved this huge milestone on the road to finally ensuring healthcare coverage for some of our most low-income neighbors."

Initiatives that fell short that voters won't get to chime in about are the Count My Vote proposal that reaffirms Utah’s signature-gathering route for candidates as well as the Keep My Voice initiative that pushed the direct caucus-to-convention election system.

Keep My Voice and the Constitution Party of Utah sued Cox alleging that he has a conflict of interest toward the Count My Vote initiative.

The lawsuit asks the court to make Cox recuse himself and to move the deadline to June 1 for signature certifications to allow for removals for those who want to take their names of the petitions.

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