Medical cannabis, otherwise known as medical marijuana, is a safe and effective treatment option for a broad range of serious medical conditions including cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, chronic pain, and muscle spasms. In states with medical cannabis laws, doctors may allow patients with certain health conditions to access and use medical cannabis without the threat of arrest or punishment. Prescription drugs, such as opiates, often come with far more serious side effects than cannabis. Medical cannabis laws allow doctors and their patients to decide if medical cannabis is the right course of treatment. 

According to a review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in January 2017, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective” in the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.”

Other medical organizations have examined the evidence and concluded that cannabis can be a safe, effective medicine for many patients. They include the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, and a number of state medical and public health organizations. Additionally, a 2013 national survey of physicians conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 76% of doctors supported use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Unfortunately, the federal government has made research on cannabis’ medical value uniquely difficult.

Yes. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, between 1999 and 2010, states with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower rate of opioid overdose deaths than states without medical cannabis laws.

Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have adopted laws that allow people with certain medical conditions to use medical cannabis, and similar laws are being considered in states around the country. These laws are working well. No state that has enacted medical cannabis legislation has later repealed it. 

Federal law does not prevent states from removing state criminal penalties for the medical use of cannabis. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution or federal law prohibits states from enacting penalties that differ from state law. In recent years, federal lawmakers have approved budgets and spending bills with language that prevents the Department of Justice from spending funds to prevent states from “implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” In other words, the federal government has respected states’ rights on this issue for the past several years.

 

Sick Utahns should not be subject to arrest and criminal penalties for using medical cannabis to treat their illnesses and conditions. Available prescription drugs can come with serious side effects and may not be effective for some patients. Regulating the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis will ensure that patients have legal, safe, and reliable access to the medicine they need. It’s time to let doctors make decisions that serve the best interests of their patients.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act authorizes the licensing of medical cannabis establishments, such as dispensaries. The initiative often refers to this kind of entity as a "person." In this context, "person” means "a natural person or individual, corporation, organization, or other legal entity.” This is a common and preexisting use of the word in Utah law. 

No. The purpose of this ballot initiative is to establish a medical cannabis law for patients in Utah. The initiative does not include a pathway to full legalization. Furthermore, our ballot initiative represents a very conservative approach to medical cannabis that differs from the laws adopted by many other states. Most importantly, the initiative does not allow patients to grow their own cannabis and it does not allow patients to smoke medical cannabis.

You can learn more about our group by visiting this page. Our goal is simple: to pass our medical cannabis ballot initiative on Election Day 2018. To do that, we’ll need a majority of Utah voters to approve the initiative when they vote next year.

A ballot initiative is a law that voters approve or reject on Election Day. If more than 50% of voters approve the ballot initiative, it becomes law in Utah. The legislature has the ability to change the law after it passes.

To place an initiative on the ballot, we must first qualify for the ballot. There are numerous requirements, including a series of seven regional meetings with voters. Most importantly, we must collect signatures from at least 113,143 Utah voters by April 15, 2018. We are required to collect signatures from across the state.

Not at all. When the Church opposed Senator Madsen's bill, polling before and after showed that conservative Mormon support actually increased — perhaps because some of this demographic had a negative reaction to the opposition and solidified their support.

We've "war-gamed" this scenario. The Church has opposed this bill before (when Sen. Madsen ran it) and it didn't change public polling. We've done internal polling. We're confident that Prop 2 can still pass in November.

Because it's federally illegal. The Church said they want medical cannabis to be prescribed by a doctor and sold through a licensed pharmacy. This is impossible. 

It's important to understand that. The Church's call for an "appropriate solution" was contextualized by their stipulation that the impossible be done. That's a non-starter. All it would do is continue to criminalize patients for years, potentially decades. 

Yes, with doctor and parental approval, children can also access medical cannabis under Prop 2. And that's a huge blessing for many of them who need it.

Concerns about preventing unauthorized youth use are certainly understandable. But under Utah's current policy of prohibition, kids who want to use cannabis illegally are already doing so. It's on every school campus. But because of the controls and restrictions in Prop 2, it's not possible for underage minors to access a dispensary. For those who are sick and whose physicians think it will help more than conventional prescription drugs, why would we deny them that option? 

There's an "insurance provision" in the initiative to ensure regulators actually implement the law. In other states, the bureaucracy has dragged their feet for years and the Utah Patients Coalition didn't want that. So if regulators don't have dispensaries up and running more than two years after passage, then patients can grow a few plants in non-residential areas as long as they are grown in a secure space outside of public view. It's unlikely this ever happens, but it's there to add some pressure to regulators.

No, there's a specific provision explicitly stating it is not legal to smoke.

THC is only activated (made potentially psychoactive) if it's heated. Some patients prefer to juice the flower to gain the benefits without any effect at all of getting high. It seems unreasonable to criminalize legitimate patients who prefer to take their medicine in a different form than some might feel comfortable with.

Many people who had high hopes for CBD found that it didn't help at all, or nearly as well as an oil or product that had multiple cannabinoids, including THC. CBD helps a limited few, but the broader range of conditions are primarily helped through a range of cannabinoids to produce what's known as the "entourage effect" which is a unique feature of cannabis' apparent power to aid in many ways.

Because what the legislature passed will likely never actually come to be. Approving a single state-run grow facility and dispensary is monopolistic behavior that will lead to high prices, especially because the costs are dispersed among such a small patient population: terminal patients who are already on their deathbed. It's also cruel to only provide freedom to those who are about to die. These legislative efforts are more of the same — indifference to the broader need and an attempt to look like they're doing something when they're not doing much.

No. There are a limited number of conditions, and physicians are restricted as well; those who can prescribe opioids can also provide recommendations for cannabis for those who suffer from one of the specific conditions. Prop 2 states that a doctor can only recommend cannabis "in the course of a physician-patient relationship after the physician has completed a full assessment of the patient’s condition and medical history.

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