A bill expanding the number of patients able to treat themselves with medical cannabis in Utah will be brought before the state senate Thursday. Introduced by Senator Mark Madsen, the bill promises to “create access for Utah patients suffering from a wide range of conditions and symptoms.” With just three weeks until lawmakers close their annual session, the bill will have to move quickly to succeed.
“From a strictly compassionate perspective, why is government denying relief to citizens who can certainly benefit because others may potentially abuse it?,” Madsen said in a release issued by the Drug Policy Project of Utah.
Last year Utah passed a limited medical CBD-only bill that allows those with severe epilepsy to possess, but not obtain, “hemp extract” oil. The bill that will be introduced Thursday, Senate Bill 259, would allow “cannabis, cannabis products and devices designed for ingesting cannabis,” for qualifying patients. Those qualifying for medical treatment with cannabis under SB 259 include citizens with illnesses such as cancer and PTSD. The bill also includes a provision to allow for medical conditions that produce symptoms such as seizures, severe nausea and pain.
“This bill introduces a small degree of highly regulated freedom to interested patients and willing doctors who think this might be an alternative or augmentation for their treatment,” Madsen said. “Personally, I think this is especially good as an alternative to opiates. We have seen that when this available, overdoses go down — and that is a growing problem in our state.”
Championing the bill is Christine Stenquist, president of the Drug Policy Project of Utah and 42-year-old mother fighting fibromyalgia. Stenquist tried nearly 30 different medications and was bedridden for 15 years before turning to cannabis.
“Utahns deserve safe access to the relief provided by cannabis medicines,” Stenquist says. “I don’t want anyone else to have to give up 20 years of their life because of bad policy. Why wouldn’t you vote for compassion and care?”
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