Polls show that more than 3/4 of Utahns support a proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis. Despite that overwhelming support, Gov. Gary Herbert recently said he would "actively oppose" the ballot initiative.

Our "Political Insiders" say Herbert's opposition to legalizing medical marijuana won't make much difference if the initiative makes the ballot in November. 57% of the Republicans on our "Insider" panel say Herbert's opposition won't have an impact. 72% of the Democrats and 54% of our readers felt the same way. 

Herbert says he is opposed to the medical cannabis initiative because he fears it will lead to recreational use in Utah. In a statement shortly after he signed two bills giving terminally ill Utahns access to medical marijuana Herbert said the ballot proposal "has significant flaws."

"I believe the consequences of this initiative, even if they are unintended, will do more harm than good," said Herbert.

 

 

Selected anonymous comments 

I don't think that Herbert's opposition will have an impact - but I do think the polling is off on this and it will be a much closer race than the current polls show.

While I agree with Gov Herbert’s sentiment, he has little sway over others opinions in this matter.

I think most Utahns are fed up with the Legislature's failure to seriously act on medical marijuana. This year's bill covers only a fraction of those who could benefit. The citizens' initiative is flawed, but it will likely pass.

The governor might be popular, but his support is thin, and his opinion is inconsequential.

It passes in a landslide. Now, if the LDS Church openly opposes it, that would close the gap, though that would not be enough.

His opposition will cause some to question support.

The petition language is so flawed. The amateurs responsible for it ought to be ashamed. It won’t take much from Herbert to point out the flaws and convince the public (rightfully) that it is bad for patients.

Herbert's ignorant stance will hurt him politically, and his impact will be to cause the 77% go up.

Governor Herbert's opposition will certainly have "an impact" in that it will sway a number of voters, but not enough to defeat the measure. If it gets on the ballot, it passes.

Of course, it will make a difference. However, most Utahns will still support medical cannabis - which is the issue at hand - not recreational marijuana, which is the bugaboo that opponents are campaigning against.

Medical marijuana makes sense. The initiative is much more liberal and has aspects that make it a recreational marijuana initiative. As the Governor and other elected leaders point this out, support will erode.

Governor Herbert isn’t against “the right to try,” he just believes the initiative is flawed. Most Utahns will realize that the Governor is a voice of reason. Utah is not ready to go down the rabbit hole of recreational pot! Don’t listen to blatherers like Robert Gehrke, think this through!

The poll numbers represent support for an abstraction (in effect, “do you want to help people who suffer?”), not for a bloated initiative rife with problems that opens the door to almost unlimited use, which is, of course, the goal of many of the initiative’s most ardent supporters. Once the public realizes what’s inside this Trojan horse, support will erode dramatically.

Herbert does not have that much influence over this issue.

It might close the gap a bit, but I still think it gets a majority of the vote, probably 60/40.

The momentum is strong, and the governor is on the wrong side of this issue. The support goes across the political divide.

Polls for general initiatives always show stronger support than for actual initiatives. If Governor Herbert feels that the current proposal opens a path to recreational use, then chances are that possible reality will play out by November and the support will shrink considerably. Utahns support medical marijuana, but they do not support recreational marijuana and will demonstrate their frustration at the polls if they feel people are trying to trick them into marijuana legalization.

I think this is yet to be determined. While I do believe he will change some minds, I'm not so sure he'll have the same impact as say, the First Presidency saying something. This may very well end up being one of those issues where Hebert's opinion means very little.

I don't think the gov's position will have any significant impact. I certainly hope not, anyway. The LDS church's position will have more influence. Still, I expect this will pass. I think people know the issues well enough to make an informed decision. Medical cannabis has a great many positive uses.

It won't cause voters to reject the initiative, but his opposition will diminish the margin of victory.

The Governor's concerns are not so much against medical cannabis as they are against the language in the initiative. If Herbert makes those concerns known to the public, then it may sway some people who are on the fence.

Depending on his reasons for the position. If it's scientifically based, could resonate, but if strictly playing the 'moral' conservative card, it could have opposite effect.

We are living in interesting times. The people are taking back some control from the politicians.

Hopefully, he will be able to open people's eyes to the deceptive tactics being used by the people who are trying to legalize the drug.

I know that some forms of cannabis can be helpful for a variety of reasons, however; I feel that we need to err on the side of caution before making this drug available to a large number of citizens. I never would like to see cannabis legal for recreational use. Physicians need to be trained in its use etc. My opinion may not be a popular one...it is what it is.

Yes, the Governor is popular, and his opinion has a lot of influence in the election.

I think it will have an impact and I'm really frustrated. He has said that he would support medical cannabis if the evidence showed it helped. Now he is backtracking because of unintended consequences? He needs to stand by his promises.

It will not affect my decision, but I fear it will affect the decisions of those who are apprehensive and looking to government leadership for guidance.

As he has said, "the devil is in the details." People can be supportive of medical cannabis and still be opposed to the initiative as being bad policy. As people learn more about what's in the initiative, support will drop. It still may very well pass though.

I think people are really tired of being stopped from using a reasonably effective painkilling technique, while also being told we are all drug addicts from expensive, commercial painkillers. It can't be worse. I don't happen to be a recreational or prescription drug user of mood enhancers, but there are plenty of them out there, what's worse with cannabis? Thirdly, Colorado is rolling in revenues from taxing cannabis, why should Utah leave all the profit to drug dealers? Altogether misguided to regulate this way.

It will lull certain supporters of medical cannabis into the idea that the legislature has already done something substantive, and that the initiative is no longer necessary.