In January, Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use through the legislature—rather than the ballot box—when Governor Phil Scott signed HB 511.Office of Vermont Governor Phil Scott, “Governor Phil Scott Signs H. 511,” press release (Montpelier, VT: Office of VT Governor Phil Scott, January 22, 2018).
In November, Missouri and Utah joined the list of states that have legalized medical marijuana, and Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational cannabis use.Lopez, “Marijuana Legalization Had a Pretty Good Election Night,” 2018. But controversy continues in Utah, where—due largely to pressure from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS)—legislators supplanted the voter-approved Proposition 2 with the Utah Medical Cannabis Act during a special session called for that purpose.Bethany Rodgers, “Utah Has a New Medical Marijuana Law—But Not the One Approved by Voters in the Recent Election,” Salt Lake Tribune, December 3, 2018. Proposition 2 would have allowed 40 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state; the new law approves just seven “cannabis pharmacies” and requires state-run distribution of the drug. While Proposition 2 had allowed for the dispensing of edibles—cannabis products meant to be eaten rather than inhaled—the law prohibits them with an exception of gelatin cubes.Bethany Rodgers, “Utah Has a New Medical Marijuana Law—But Not the One Approved by Voters in the Recent Election,” Salt Lake Tribune, December 3, 2018 and Utah Medical Cannabis Act, Utah HB 3001 (2018). The new law also makes substantial modifications to the list of illnesses qualifying for cannabis treatment, removing most autoimmune diseases.Rodgers, “New Marijuana Law,” 2018. The LDS church released a statement calling the new bill “a broad community effort to alleviate pain and suffering,” but the Marijuana Policy Project, a backer of Proposition 2, said the law is “inferior to the law enacted by voters in November.”Rodgers, “New Marijuana Law,” 2018.