SB0259 Press Release

 

Medical Cannabis Bill Filed in Utah Senate

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

On Thursday, February 26, Senator Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs) will announce details regarding his proposal to legalize medical cannabis and create safe access for Utah patients suffering from a range of conditions and symptoms. The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee that morning with a press conference to follow immediately after.

 

 

“This bill introduces a small degree of highly regulated freedom to interested patients and willing doctors who think this might be an alternative or an augmentation for their treatment,” said Senator Madsen. “Personally, I think this is especially good as an alternative to opiates. We have seen that when this is available, overdoses go down—and that is a growing problem in our state.”

Utah has the eighth-highest drug overdose rate in the nation. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 people die on average each day of prescription opiate drug overdose. In a survey of states with laws legalizing robust medical cannabis programs, prescription painkiller deaths dropped by up to 25 percent.

“From a strictly compassionate perspective, why is government denying relief to citizens who can certainly benefit because others may potentially abuse it?” said Madsen.

Christine Stenquist, President of Drug Policy Project of Utah, will be championing the bill and testifying in committee on Thursday. Stenquist suffered through two decades of her life with chronic debilitating pain, nausea and vertigo caused by a brain tumor and fibromyalgia. She tried nearly 30 different medications and was bedridden for 15 years. She began using cannabis therapies and is now pharmaceutical-free and active in her life again.

“Utahns deserve safe access to the relief provided by cannabis medicines,” Stenquist says. “I don’t want anyone else to have to give up 20 years of their life because of bad policy. Why wouldn’t you vote for compassion and care? 

Mixed messages have come from Gov. Gary Herbert’s office and at this time it is unknown if he would sign the bill should it hit his desk. Patients who could benefit from the legislation are hoping the governor will sign.

“My experience has shown me medical cannabis positively impacts those with cancer and I believe we need to give this natural plant a chance,” says Tenille Farr. “I am confident when the Governor and citizens of Utah take the time to educate themselves on recent studies showing its clear medical benefits, they will take the necessary steps to pass this bill as soon as possible.”

 Farr is also advocating for Sen. Madsen’s legislation at the Capitol. While 18 weeks pregnant with her fifth son, Farr was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Because she was pregnant, chemo was not an option, so she researched alternatives. Following significant prayer, she left her family in Utah to seek treatment in another state. Over several difficult months away from her family, the cancer stopped growing and ultimately became benign. Anxious to follow the law, she stopped taking cannabis medicines after returning home to Utah and having her baby. The cancer is growing again and she wants to legally treat it with a medicine she knows works. 

All members of the press are invited to the Senate hearing in 250 Capitol building at 8am on Thursday and the press conference immediately following. 

Please direct all media inquiries to Drug Policy Project of Utah: (385) 282-8172 or media@dpputah.org