Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has announced he will actively oppose the ballot initiative seeking to broadly legalize the medical use of marijuana in the state expected to be before voters in November.
In a statement released Thursday, the Republican governor praised the legislature for passing House Bill 197, orders the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to grow marijuana for terminally ill patients. A companion bill granted people with less than six months to live a "right to try" cannabis.
Herbert says that the law he recently signed allowing farmers to grow marijuana for use by researchers and patients with less than six months to live is a careful step to allow more research on marijuana’s medical effects.
Turning to the initiative, however, the governor pointed out it has significant flaws and “will do more harm than good.”
"It lacks important safeguards regarding its production and utilization and would potentially open the door to recreational use," Herbert said. "We need to be cautious as we test and introduce cannabis into our formulary. I believe the consequences of this initiative, even if they are unintended, will do more harm than good.”
The governor ended his statement saying he will actively oppose the medical marijuana ballot initiative.
However, the marijuana advocates say those living with chronic conditions need access to the drug and are preparing to ask Utah voters this November to allow broader use of marijuana, along with state-regulated growing and dispensing.
The Utah Patients Coalition said it has approximately 160,000 signatures collected statewide, more than enough to qualify for the November ballot. Those signatures are being validated by county clerks and the Lt. Governor's Office.