When Utah is mentioned, most people think of Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital. Salt Lake City is also where the Winter Olympics were held in 2002, and Utah is currently pushing to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. Although this would garner tourism and boost the economy, Utah shouldn’t focus on hosting the Olympic games when they could instead focus on their sick and suffering residents in desperate need of medical marijuana. Utah lawmakers have been dragging their feet on implementing a medical marijuana program, despite widespread effort by activists and advocate groups such as Utah Patients Coalition, TRUCE, Libertas Institute and the Marijuana Policy Project.
Pushing for a Progressive Change:
According to a poll conducted in September 2017, 74 percent of Utah residents support a state medical marijuana program, which demonstrates resident acceptance of cannabis as medicine. However, Utah lawmakers have chosen to ignore residents’ needs, including children who would greatly benefit from medical marijuana—particularly cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid known to treat many medical ailments.
Thus far, the Utah Patients Coalition (UPC) has led Utah’s campaign to establish a medical marijuana program for suffering residents, particularly children with various seizure disorders. Due to Utah’s legislative inaction, advocate groups like UPC have taken matters into their own hands by introducing a citizen petition. This petition would set up a medical marijuana (non-smoking) program, in which a limited number of registered growers would provide marijuana to be prescribed by a limited number of doctors for specific diseases and/or chronic pain, according to Utah Policy.com.
However, for Utah’s petition to qualify for this year’s ballot, the campaign must collect 113,000 signatures from registered Utah voters by this April. Additionally, at least 10 percent of those voters must be in 26 of 29 Utah Senate districts.
Utah Marijuana Laws:
Despite countless studies demonstrating the medicinal properties and benefits of marijuana, it remains illegal in Utah. In particular, the possession of as little as an ounce or less of cannabis could result in a six-month jail sentence. Rather than medically legalizing marijuana, a bill was passed in 2017 that authorizes further research of the benefits and risks of marijuana; Utah legislators have refused to authorize medical marijuana usage in favor of further studying its effectiveness.
Utah Families Migrate to Colorado for Medicinal Marijuana:
Due to Utah’s delay in medically legalizing marijuana, multiple families have decided to relocate to Colorado so their children can receive the medicine they need. The Koozers are one such family relocating to Colorado to ensure their daughter, Piper, could legally use CBD oil for her seizures. The Koozers are just one family out of a steadily growing migration who have uprooted their lives in order to access Colorado’s legal cannabis.
Colorado has proved to be the go-to state for receiving high-CBD extracts that are low in THC, the cannabinoid that gives users a “high” feeling. CW Botanicals is the top company Utah parents trust with their CBD oil purchases, including the Koozers. The Cromars and Stangers are two additional families who relocated to Colorado, despite Utah issuing medical hemp permits for individuals to utilize CBD oil.
Unfortunately, there are many restrictions in Utah that make it difficult to use medical marijuana, and medical hemp permits are difficult to obtain. You need state-approved documentation to use CBD oil and you must travel out of state to attain the oil, as cultivation is illegal in Utah. Regardless, activists, advocacy groups and passionate families continue to fight for the legalization of medical marijuana, and we hope the petition will make it onto the 2018 ballot next month.