Ballot initiative pursued in favor of whole-plant medical marijuana

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah patients announced they will pursue ballot initiative in hopes to let the public decide the future of medical marijuana in the state.

The ballot initiative was announced Monday after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out last week against one of the two medical marijuana bills being considered by the Legislature.

The LDS Church originally released a statement Feb. 6 declaring its opposition to SB 73, a bill that would legalize the whole plant. The Church stated they were not opposed to the competing bill SB 89, which would legalize extract with trace amounts of THC. Church officials released an updated statement Feb. 12.

People argue SB 89 isn’t enough.

“We kinda expected there might be an initiative here in Utah,” said Bradley M. Daw, R-Orem, sponsor of SB 89.

Christine Stenquist co-founder and president of patient advocacy group TRUCE, could not interview on camera Monday night but sent FOX 13 News the following statement:

"Patients like me cannot stand idly by while powerful lobbyists and unwilling legislators ignore our plight. Multiple scientific polls show overwhelming public support for what the legislature appears unwilling to do - to pass senate bill 73 and legalize medical cannabis.”

To get medical marijuana on the November ballot those part of the initiative have less than 60 days to get 101,744 signatures across the state.

“That's going to be a pretty impressive lift, I’ll wait and see but I’m a little skeptical,” Daw said.

Daw worries that if that does happen it will eventually lead to legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

“Every state that has gone the initiative route I think have had a lot of problems; it just opens up a can of worms. We don't know how it's worded it can't be carefully crafted and a lot of people who should be involved will not be participating in looking at it,” Daw said.

Stenquist said changes need to happen.

"Representative Daw's efforts to undermine legalizing medical cannabis are not supported by patients,” she said. “If legislators like him want to ignore us, then we'll take our request directly to the people of Utah who will listen."

Ballot initiatives are pretty rare. The last time one was successful was in the early 2000s. They had just under a year to get all the signatures they needed. But the state's director of elections says it's not impossible.

A press conference will take place Tuesday at 9:30 at the Capitol where TRUCE and other patients will talk about the ballot initiative.



  • malcolmkyle

    The discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the single most important scientific medical discovery since the recognition of sterile surgical technique. As our knowledge expands, we are coming to realize that the ECS is a master control system of virtually all physiology. The total effect of the ECS is to regulate homeostasis and prevent disease and aging. The more we learn, the more we realize that we are in the infancy of this scientific field of study. The ECS is a control system which involves tissue receptor proteins, cellular communication and control, molecular anatomy and the scavenging of oxygen free radicals. This new field of science will change medicine forever and prove cannabis the gold standard for many disease processes. Its effect on scavenging oxygen free radicals is applicable to all disease processes and this is why it has such wide medical application and is considered a cure-all by many.

    The discovery of the ECS will replace the current medical system of managing and treating disease. Instead of management of symptoms after disease has occurred, we will prevent disease and cancer by manipulation of the ECS.

    Research and education of medical students involving the ECS is being intentionally restricted by politics. No justification can be made for the restriction of the scientific study of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. What is the danger of providing government-grown and tested cannabis to researchers? Diversion of research cannabis for non-scientific or recreational purposes does not seem to be a serious threat to national security.

    By Dr David Allen

  • Gentle Jim

    Cannabis was never a dangerous drug. it has always been a safe effective medicine, Nixon’s cabinet members have admitted that they criminalized it as a powerful tool to use against the peace movement and the counterculture. look it up for yourselves. Stop being sheep America. Don’t aliow the politicians to steal your god given right to life, liberty and the pursuit happiness and of liberty.
    God bless all those who work to end the war on drugs. it’s just a cover for political tyranny.
    Gentle Jim

    • Barry

      What happened to freedom speech? The Church is allowed to voice an opinion(even, as in this case, it’s the wrong one.). There is no separation of church and state, issue, as the church has no state authority.

      • Barry

        Opinion, of any sort, is not dependent on your assertion of not paying taxes, but I like the attempt to deny a voice to those that disagree with you. The New America,

      • aubrey

        Do you honestly believe that all they did was voice an opinion on the matter? That seems a little naive to me, in a time where money and lobbyist seem to be behind all policy!

      • Barry

        What else they did they do, other than voice an opinion? If they financially support an initiative, it also is a person’s right, just as a counter opinion is financially backed. Are you suggesting a person/group should not allowed do this, or are you really saying, that someone/group you disagree with should not be allowed do this.

  • La Sché

    I would sign this petition in a heartbeat and I know many others that would as well. The LDS church shouldn’t have anything to do with this! We deserve to have access to medicine that actually helps and so do our children.

  • judy hawkins

    where is the petition for me to sign. we need it for my son really bad………..tell me the location of the petition and I will sign it, sign it and sign it again.

  • Ronin Idoro

    This article unfairly lends bias in the direction of skepticism regarding a successful movement to legalize medical Cannabis in Utah. The article focuses heavily on the LDS church’s opposition (irrelevant as it is not a political party or institution.) By linking to an article containing the church’s press releases regarding their opposition to Medical Cannabis legalization, while omitting any reference to the actual petition being discussed in the article Fox 13 has decided to take sides rather than to be informative. Linking to a petition is not advocacy when it is the subject of the article, omitting the petition content while linking to church commentary on the subject; however, is.

    • Rick

      I believe you are quite naive if you believe that a state congressional body made up of a large percentage of practicing LDS members won’t take their religion’s position on this issue into consideration when they cast their votes. It is correct for Fox 13 to include the fact the church is taking a negative position on this issue, as it highlights again our state’s failure to “separate Church and State.” As for me, I too want to know where I can sign.

  • Amador Rivera

    I was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and then with AIDS in 1998 with Hep-C. I suffer from the side affects of the AIDS medication. In New York I would have no problem in getting Marinol at the Brooklyn VA Hospital the next best thing, but not here in the SLC VA hospital. I was told it was only for cancer patients and those who are wasting.

  • Cheryl

    Hey Fox, if you do a segment at least be courteous enough to leave all links so the people of Utah can practice their first amendment rights. That is why I prefer Channel 2. Please post a link for the ballot.

  • Jewkes

    He says….”uhhhh….legalization could lead to recreational use”….. Hello? we ALREADY ARE using it recreationally!!!

  • Darrell Godfrey

    I would like to help support this bill
    I’m a veteran and have been out for a year now. Marijuana has helped me deal with my highy anxiet, PTSD and readjusting back into civilian life. Right now I’m attending SLCC working on getting my AAS degree in Automotive Technician which im maintaining a 2.9gpa which is very good for me.

  • Mark

    This is a difficult issue because of the complicated prohibition history. Legalization goes against powerful interests such as the prison guards’ union, the pharmaceutical industry, and even Anheiser-Busch. Not to mention a century of demonization.

    The proper next step would be for the Federal government to reschedule cannabis to Schedule 2. This would allow medical use — and more importantly proper scientific study — nationwide. Until that happens, though, local measures like this are the best way to show support.

  • candice Bjorkman

    Passing this bill will save a lot of people’s lives the ones that are in extreme pain or chronic pain and take pain medication end up overdosing on pain medication because they forgot the day taking it if I had the if marijuana was legal I would definitely get off pain medication Medical Marijuana works better than the pain medication anyways this bill needs to be paid to save people’s lives so they don’t overdose and the ones that have cancer and seizures in everything else marijuana has been proven to help with all the stuff stop seizures and helps people with pain that have cancer will allow them to eat people that have stomach issues in don’t nothing you already eat in the marijuana helps him do that what would you like better pain or pain medication that is such a higher chance of overdosing on marijuana that has no chance at all

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