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Utahns Voice Concerns and Optimism About Medical Marijuana Initiative

Erik Neumann
Utah Patient Coalition's Christine Stenquist took public comments about the Utah Medical Cannabis Act from community members at the Box Elder County Commission Chambers on Thursday.

This week advocates for the Utah Medical Cannabis Act held public meetings around the state for input about a medical marijuana law in Utah. They hope to gather enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot in November.

On a Thursday night in the Box Elder County Commission Chamber, around 40 people gathered to talk about the medical marijuana ballot initiative.

Kevin Carver lives in Brigham City. He had polio when he was young and these days he suffers from chronic pain, headaches, and muscle and bone degeneration. He walks with a wooden cane and his body shakes.

Carver tried marijuana in Oregon under their medical use law.  

"The medicinal side I’ve qualified for and was able to quit the opiates that I’ve been taking for years as soon as I was able to start with the marijuana. And I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms or anything. I felt the best I had in years," Carver says. 

Like Carver, nearly everyone at the Brigham City meeting supported a medical use law. The group Utah Patients Coalition is writing the draft ballot initiative. They organized eight public input meetings in counties around the state.

Vern Larsen was also at the meeting. Larsen has worked in substance abuse prevention for over three decades. His concern is that legalization – even as medicine – will make marijuana seem less harmful to kids.

"When a kid feels the perception of harm is decreased, use goes up," Larsen says. 

Larsen says residents should wait until marijuana goes through the FDA approval process like other drugs.

"That’s what we’ve done with everything else and I think that’s proper to do here too," Larsen says. 

Comments from the community meetings will be delivered to the Lieutenant Governor’s office. In mid-August, initiative supporters will begin collecting the approximately 113,000 signatures required to put it on the ballot.

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