Petition for Extraordinary Relief
Grant, Monroe, Steven G. Maxfield, Kanosh, Daniel Newby,
Taylorsville, pro se petitioners
D. Reyes, Att'y Gen., Tyler R. Green, Solic. Gen.,
Stanford E. Purser, Deputy Solic. Gen., Salt Lake City, for
respondents Governor Gary R. Herbert, Lieutenant Governor
Spencer J. Cox, and Director of Elections Justin Lee
N. Weeks, Christine R. Gilbert, Lee A. Killian, Salt Lake
City, for respondents Members of the 62nd Utah State
Justice Petersen authored the opinion of the Court, in which
Chief Justice Durrant, Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice
Himonas, and Judge Appleby joined.
recused himself, Justice Pearce does not participate herein.
Court of Appeals Judge Kate Appleby sat.
In the 2018 general election, Utah voters approved a
citizens' initiative that legalized medical cannabis.
Before the law's effective date, Governor Gary R. Herbert
called for a special session of the Utah Legislature. During
the special session, the legislature replaced the initiative
with its own statute: House Bill 3001. The day H.B. 3001
passed, some of the Petitioners in this case filed a
referendum application with Lieutenant Governor Spencer J.
Cox. If successful, the application would have allowed H.B.
3001 to be put to a vote of the people. But the application
was not successful. The Lieutenant Governor denied it because
he determined one of the referendum sponsors did not meet the
applicable statutory requirements, and because both the Utah
House of Representatives and the Utah Senate passed H.B. 3001
by more than a two-thirds vote. Under the Utah Constitution,
when both houses of the legislature pass a bill by a
supermajority, it is referendum-proof.
Petitioners bypassed the district court and brought this
petition for extraordinary relief directly to us. They argue
that the actions of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and
the Utah Legislature are unconstitutional in a number of
ways. For the reasons explained below, we dismiss the
The Utah Constitution gives the "legal voters of the
State of Utah" the right to "initiate any desired
legislation and cause it to be submitted to the people for
adoption upon a majority vote of those voting on the
legislation, as provided by statute." Utah Const. art.
VI, § 1(2)(a)(i).
The initiative at issue here is the Utah Medical Cannabis
Act. After determining that the initiative had received a
sufficient number of verified signatures, the Lieutenant
Governor ordered that the Utah Medical Cannabis Act be placed
on the 2018 general election ballot as Proposition 2. Utah
voters passed Proposition 2, and it went into effect on
December 1, 2018.
The day before Proposition 2's effective date, the
Governor called for a special session of the Utah
Legislature. The special session was convened on December 3,
2018, to consider, along with two other topics,
"[a]mending the Utah Medical Cannabis Act and related
provisions." During the one-day special session, H.B.
3001, also titled the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, was
introduced. The bill amended many of the provisions of
Proposition 2. When legislators voted on H.B. 3001, it
passed by a two-thirds supermajority in both houses.
The Governor signed H.B. 3001 into law the same day.
Immediately, Petitioners Steven G. Maxfield, Daniel Newby,
Bart Grant, and Sharla Christie, as well as Lelia M. Grant,
filed a referendum application with the Lieutenant Governor.
While an initiative is the means by which voters can place
voter-initiated legislation on the ballot, a referendum is
the means by which voters can place a law passed by the
legislature on the ballot for approval or rejection by the
people. See id. art. VI, § 1(2)(a)(i)(B). A
referendum application begins this process.
Petitioners' referendum application sought to place H.B.
3001 on the ballot for voters to approve or
reject. However, the Lieutenant Governor denied
Petitioners' application because he found that Petitioner
Newby did not meet the applicable statutory requirements, and
because both houses of the legislature passed H.B. 3001 by a
Petitioners timely filed a petition for extraordinary relief
with this court. We exercise jurisdiction ...