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Medical Marijuana Vote Coming Up In November, But LDS Church Introduces Another Idea

Utah State

KPCW moderated the Project for Deeper Understanding on Thursday evening. It was a panel discussion on the voter ballot referendum to legalize medical cannabis in Utah. Pastor Charles Robinson from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church hosted the seven-member panel representing a cross section of views on the subject. It’s a Yes or No vote on the ballot for legalizing medical cannabis in Utah but there have been curious developments on the issue recently. Here is a highlight from the two-hour debate. Carolyn Murray has this:

All the panelists, regardless of their position on Proposition 2 said they support medical cannabis in general. Proponents said those who are suffering can’t wait any longer for the state legislature to legalize medical marijuana and that’s why it has been taken to the ballot box. Opponents claim Prop 2 is dangerous to patients, allows for potential abuse and causes law enforcement complications.

In late August, the LDS church publicly took a stand against Proposition 2 joining with the organization Drug Safe Utah but in an odd twist, just a few days ago, asked the legislature to call a special session to legalize medical cannabis prior to the election. The church and legislators are working now to draft an alternative medical cannabis bill. Marty Stephens, representing the LDS Church as a lobbyist and Director of Community and Government Relations, said they will have a bill to the legislature in three weeks.

“Quickly, I share your skepticism. If I were in your place, I would feel the same way. But let me tell you what our hope is. Our hope is to have something within the next few weeks. So, long before the election, you’ll have the chance to look at the principals and the ideas that we’re putting on the table as an alternative to Proposition 2.”

“I appreciate the points of view, but it just rings very, very hollow when there have been plenty of opportunities and now we’re on the cusp of voters passing this through and now all of a sudden, there’s this great sense of urgency.”

That’s Board-Certified Pain Physician, Andrew Talbot who is a member of TRUCE which stands for Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education.

Representative Brad Daw who opposes Prop 2, has joined with the LDS Church and the Utah Medical Association to provide an alternative to the voter initiative. He was confronted by panelist, Jessica Gliem. She suffers from a chronic pain condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia also known as the "Suicide Disease"and said her struggle to find effective pain medications has been unsuccessful until she started using medical cannabis in 2014.

“We have an opportunity. It’s one vote in November. I’m out of hope. This is life or death for many people that would be considered under this list. I so appreciate everybody’s effort. Brad Daw, we worked previously in other years and I appreciate everything that you’ve done. But, I respectfully say, I don’t believe you. But this is my only opportunity because the voters brought it and we vote once in November. I can’t wait another year.”

Several comments from the audience challenged the LDS Church and the Utah Legislature and said the alternative bill would discount chronic pain as an authorized condition for treatment from medical cannabis. Stephens said the LDS Church has not been involved in that aspect of the alternative bill.

“He referenced the LDS Church and said that the church had said that we weren’t in favor of THC or that we weren’t going to put pain on our list or whatever. The Church has never made any statements about who should have the medication or what should or should not be included. The Church has had no statements in that regard.”
The entire debate can be found on KPCW.org.

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