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Chronic Pain Patients Want Medical Marijuana in Utah in 2016

Brian Grimmett

People experiencing chronic pain and rare diseases gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday asking lawmakers to pass legislation in the upcoming session that would allow them to use marijuana.  

Patients with the Drug Policy Project of Utah, or DPP, say they want safe, reasonable access to the whole cannabis plant. Jessica Gleim suffers from a rare and extremely painful condition called trigeminal neuralgia. She says she is prescribed a cocktail of medications from her doctor to help deal with her pain.

“And unfortunately, the side effects of these meds are severe and debilitating,” she says. “I have never, ever figured out what’s worse: my pain or the side effects of these pharmaceuticals.”

There are two bills dealing with medical cannabis that lawmakers may consider in the upcoming session. Representative Brad Daw and Senator Evan Vickers have drafted one. The other is being written by Senator Mark Madsen, who began the conversation about medical marijuana in Utah earlier this year.

DPP offered more support for Senator Madsen’s bill, but say it could do even more for patients. DPP board president Turner Britton pointed out that both proposals include a set list of conditions that qualify for the medical cannabis program.

“So what that essentially says to a patient with trigeminal neuralgia or with another rare condition is that ‘Your conditions don’t qualify for this, you and your physician aren’t smart enough to make this decision. That the legislature need to make this decision,’” he says. “And we reject that wholesale.”

Currently, 23 states and Washington DC have laws allowing the use of medical marijuana.

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