Utah lawmakers return to capitol to change marijuana laws again

Utah lawmakers return to capitol to change marijuana laws again. (Photo: KUTV)

Utah's state lawmakers will return to the capitol Monday to amend marijuana laws.

Among the significant changes, lawmakers will consider is how and where patients will receive cannabis products.

The laws on the books layout a system of seven private pharmacies, with a large "central fill" government pharmacy. But problems arose when local leaders balked at having government employees involved in disseminating a drug the federal government classifies as illegal.

Republican Evan Vickers, who has been very involved in planning the amendments, told 2News Sunday that his Republican colleagues will vote to nix the large government pharmacy and replace it with additional private pharmacies.

House Minority Whip Carol Spackman Moss was a yes vote on Proposition 2, the voter-approved initiative that first legalized medical marijuana, and a hard no vote on the legislature's re-write during the 2019 session. How will she vote this week?

"Well it depends on what the final bill is like," she said.

Moss said voters were betrayed by their leaders when Proposition 2 was swapped out for the so-called "compromise bill." She hopes this week's amendments will help the law more closely resemble the people's original intent.

"People are still complaining to me about it," she said. "They feel like their voices weren't heard and they weren't."

Moss hopes to see more places to buy medical cannabis products and more farmers free to grow it.

"I think there'll be more debate about this," she said.

There's a March deadline to get the state's pot program up and running for patients. Moss is concerned the state won't make it. She said:

I hope so but I'm a little doubtful from what I'm hearing behind the scenes.

Vickers said a lot of the changes this week will help the state meet the deadline, such as sorting out zoning and land use issues related to marijuana cultivation and distribution in cities and towns.