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On June 26, 2017, in Salt Lake City, patients, advocates, and their families introduced a ballot initiative application that would allow for a comprehensive medical cannabis program in Utah. The initiative grew from patient advocates and their families who are frustrated by the inability of the Utah legislators to pass comprehensive medical cannabis bills. This initiative would allow Utah voters decide if they wanted to legalize medical use of the whole cannabis plant in their state.
Current legislation regarding medical cannabis in Utah is limited to possession of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, only for patients with severe epilepsy. Christine Stenquist, president and founder of the medical cannabis patient group Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), has said full use of the cannabis plant is medically necessary to give chronically ill patients in Utah "a better option." The bill behind the initiative allows for the treatment of several debilitating diseases, protections for medical cannabis patients from certain types of discrimination, licensing procedures and regulations for businesses that will be handling or processing medical cannabis.
The ballot initiative application must be reviewed for several requirements by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox's office before being approved. If the initiative is approved, the Utah Patients Coalition must hold one public meeting in each of the seven designated geographic areas of the state and collect at least 113,143 electronic signatures by April 15, 2018. However, the ballot measure committee, Utah Patients Coalition, has given themselves a deadline of January 1, 2018. The coalition believes that, if directly given the choice, voters in Utah will support the measure.
“Utah patients have waited long enough for access to this life-saving treatment option,” said Nathan Frodsham, Board Member for TRUCE. “We know we have our work cut out for us, but with our polls showing up to a 79% voter approval rating, we are optimistic that we will be able to obtain the roughly 113,000 signatures necessary to pass the initiative.”
We are very proud of our affiliate TRUCE for taking on this difficult task and are happy to support this effort. “With 30 states having passed comprehensive medical cannabis laws, Utah is behind in showing compassion for its chronically ill citizens who could benefit from medical cannabis,” said Beth Collins, Senior Director of Government Relations and External Affairs for Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
While there is still much work that needs to be done, this initiative marks a positive step forward for patients in Utah who can benefit from medical cannabis.
Video from the press conference - https://www.facebook.com/TruceUtah/videos/1058284064307242/
Text of ballot initiative - https://www.utahpatients.org/initiative
Photo by Ben Winslow, Fox News 13 Sat Lake City