Medical Cannabis Reform Alive and Well in Utah

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Many were shocked when in early 2015, the Utah State Senate’s Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee narrowly passed Senate Bill 259 “Medical Cannabis Amendments.” Following on the heels of this early success, the Utah State Senate went on to pass the bill 16-13 on second reading. In the end, Senate Bill 259 was defeated on a 15-14 vote during the third reading of the bill.

For many outside of the capitol building these early successes were a complete shock. For those of us on the inside, the results were another story entirely because without asking, brave people suffering from chronic illnesses began to join us at the capitol and over the weeks during which the bill was being debated we grew closer and more unified.

In the months since we’ve gone from a rag tag group of patients, caregivers, and concerned citizens to an organized patient-driven nonprofit organization, the Drug Policy Project of Utah. We’ve incorporated the lessons learned into the very fibers of our organization. When the legislative session ended, we began to plot next steps and realized that an organization was needed to represent the patients during the legislative process so that their interests were not forgotten — but most of all, so that their voices were heard.

It is in this spirit that we’ve engaged patients to tell their stories, to become the voice of the voiceless. Patients with critical illnesses who are either currently using cannabis or those who believe cannabis will help them but refuse to violate the law. At the time of writing, dozens of Utahns from all across the state have stepped forward to share their stories of suffering and relief, hope and despair to encourage legislators and Utahns to support a safe medical cannabis program. Continue reading ...