Utahns, lawmakers put medical marijuana on upcoming legislative agenda

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SALT LAKE CITY — Jessica Gleim has to carefully plan for each day, but she also accepts that those plans may never come to fruition.

"Most days, I am just in bed," Gleim said. "I watch a lot of Netflix and have a lot of pajamas. Not that it is something I enjoy."

The 31-year-old Salt Lake City woman has a rare, complicated medical condition called trigeminal neuralgia. The left side of her face is constantly in pain, and the only cure is to sever the misfiring nerves, leaving no feeling at all in some places.

"I wake up every day with a migraine," Gleim said, adding that the cocktail of medications she takes for the chronic pain she endures is highly addictive and has the potential for various severe and debilitating side effects.

It is "no way to live," she said.

Gleim purposefully vacations to locales where marijuana is legal, and she has experienced relief from its various available forms. But she intends to be a law-abiding person in her home state.

The same holds true for Paul Hill, of St. George, who — thanks to a law enacted two years ago in Utah — gives his small daughter tiny doses of cannabidiol, an extract of marijuana, every day to help control seizure activity caused by epilepsy.

 

Prior to taking the therapy, Sophie experienced prolonged seizures every two weeks.

Since June, the 4-year-old has endured just one seizure, Hill said.

"As her father, I've got to find something that works," he said, adding that as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he doesn't adhere to the illicit use of drugs.

The oil, Hill said, has helped Sophie be able to attend preschool as a typical child would, and she is better equipped mentally to recuperate from seizure-related setbacks.

"It's awful to watch your kid go through something like that," he said.

In addition to his daughter's health issues, Hill's son, Kelson, survived cancer — a large tumor in his throat — in the past year.

As marijuana has helped Sophie, Hill said he's certain it could hold potential benefits for his son should the cancer, or its chemotherapy-related side effects, ever return.

Hill and Gleim are active members of the Drug Policy Project of Utah, which is advocating for widespread patient access to the whole marijuana plant, as many who suffer are left off conditional lists as proposed by Utah lawmakers.

One potential list of approved diseases or conditions eligible for the legal treatment of marijuana — specifically cannabidiol, or CBD, and not the psychoactive component of marijuana, called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — was expanded in a draft bill presented for a second time to the Health and Human Services Interim Committee on Wednesday.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, who is backing the proposal with Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said the issue of legalizing marijuana "is a big enough change in policy" that he expects intense debate during the upcoming session, which begins in January.

Daw said a favorable recommendation from the committee, which has heard countless hours of testimony on the issue, would "set the tone for the entire session."

Read the full article at DeseretNews.com ...