Public forum in southern Utah examines impact of legalizing medical cannabis

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ST. GEORGE, Utah - Breaking the silence about medical cannabis. That’s the purpose behind a series of forums aimed at dispelling fears about legalizing marijuana for medical use.

The forums are put on by Libertas Institute, a non-profit group. Close to 100 people attended the forum in St. George Thursday night, and they heard personal stories about the good medical cannabis has done.

“This is about people who are sick, and that need it,” said state Senator Mark Madsen, R-District 13. “To have a quality of life.”

Madsen is one of those who take medical cannabis. Madsen suffers from severe back pain and when narcotic drugs became too risky, he looked elsewhere.

“I started to talk to my physician about alternatives,” Madsen said. “She suggested cannabis might work.”

Madsen sponsored a bill that would have legalized medical cannabis in Utah. It failed during the most recent legislative session by one vote. But Libertas Institute president Conner Boyack said public support is there.

“In fact, there have been three public polls--all of which show two-thirds or more voters support what we’re doing, trying to legalize [medical] cannabis,” Boyack said.

Boyack has moderated forums across the state in the past month, some focusing on policy, others on the medical studies. The forum in St. George was more general, and was used to further the discussion,

“To be deliberative, to dissect this issue from all sorts of different angles, law enforcement aspects, medical research aspects, patient stories, so that we can fully vet the issue,” Boyack said.

Attendees heard from former law enforcement about current laws and several personal stories of how medical cannabis helps patients with cancer and other disabilities. Local residents said those personal stories have changed their views.

“My wife is disabled,” said St. George resident Ken Poulsen. “While we were up in Salt Lake, there are people who had skill in this area recommend cannabis might be a better option, so that's something we’re looking at.”

The problem is the legalities surrounding the issue. Madsen and other panelists admitted to using cannabis, even though it’s illegal.

Other residents worry that legalizing marijuana could lead to bigger problems.

“I think if they legalize it, there’s going to be a lot more people that are going to want to be using it illegally also,” said Brenda Harrison.

Madsen plans to bring the medical marijuana bill back to the state legislature in 2016.


  • bob

    I’m all for legalizing any drug “for medicinal purposes” as long as it goes through the same FDA approval process as any other medication.

    Pot smokers don’t want that to apply to THEIR drug of choice because they’re not interested in “medicine.” They’re interested in getting baked. And they think nobody is smart enough to notice.

    • bob

      There is no legitimate, peer-reviews SCIENCE to back up the idea that pot is “medicinal”, other than some evidence that it makes you hungry when you’re on chemo.

      Riddle me this, pot heads: If they could synthesize a compound from pot that would do everything you claim it does, but wouldn’t get you high, would you still be as excited about it? Be honest.

      • Abigail

        Pain – In the United States, pain is the most common condition for which medical cannabis is taken. Studies show the drug is especially effective against neuropathic pain, a type of pain involving nerve damage. Marijuana is less habit-forming than opiate drugs and carries virtually no risk of a fatal overdose.

        Multiple sclerosis – Sativex, a pharmaceutical version of cannabis, is approved in 25 countries as a treatment for painful muscle spasms arising from multiple sclerosis.

        Nausea The munchies are no joke. Marijuana is sometimes prescribed to stop nausea or induce appetite in people who have trouble eating, including patients suffering from AIDS or going through chemotherapy for cancer.

        Epilepsy More than 100 families have moved to Colorado to access “Charlotte’s Web,” a cannabis strain that in some epileptic children seems to dramatically reduce seizures. Taken as an oil, the medicine is high in a chemical called CBD and low in THC, the component that makes people “high.”

        Concussion – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is following the work of Israeli researchers who are exploring cannabis as a potential treatment for traumatic brain injury. In 2003, along with two colleagues, Nobel laureate Julius Axelrod, an American, obtained a patent on the drug for its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.

        Alzheimer’s disease studies of rats, marijuana helps stave off memory problems and Alzheimer’s-like brain changes. A leading researcher said the drug’s iffy legal status has held up further research.

        Bipolar disorder A small study at Harvard found that marijuana seems to stabilize the brains of people who suffer from bipolar disorder.

      • Brian Kelly

        “[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane.” — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

        “[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications.” — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

        “[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate.” — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

        “Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision.” — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

        “The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses’ Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine.” — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

        “[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.” — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, “Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” 1995

        “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug.” — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

    • Brian Kelly

      Politicians who continue to demonize Medical Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

      The People have spoken! Get on-board with Medical Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

      Legalize Medical Marijuana Nationwide!

  • Brian Kelly

    Nobody can deny the Medical effectiveness of Medical Marijuana. Below is a small sampling of Professional Medical Organizations Worldwide that attest to Medical Marijuana’s effectiveness and Support Legal Access to and Use of Medical Marijuana. . Along with over 20 U.S states that have legalized medical marijuana.

    Are they ALL wrong?

    International and National Organizations

    AIDS Action Council
    AIDS Treatment News
    American Academy of Family Physicians
    American Medical Student Association
    American Nurses Association
    American Preventive Medical Association
    American Public Health Association
    American Society of Addiction Medicine
    Arthritis Research Campaign (United Kingdom)
    Australian Medical Association (New South Wales) Limited
    Australian National Task Force on Cannabis
    Belgian Ministry of Health
    British House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology
    British House of Lords Select Committee On Science and Technology (Second Report)
    British Medical Association
    Canadian AIDS Society
    Canadian Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs
    Dr. Dean Edell (surgeon and nationally syndicated radio host)
    French Ministry of Health
    Health Canada
    Kaiser Permanente
    Lymphoma Foundation of America
    The Montel Williams MS Foundation
    Multiple Sclerosis Society (Canada)
    The Multiple Sclerosis Society (United Kingdom)
    National Academy of Sciences Institute Of Medicine (IOM)
    National Association for Public Health Policy
    National Nurses Society on Addictions
    Netherlands Ministry of Health
    New England Journal of Medicine
    New South Wales (Australia) Parliamentary Working Party on the Use of Cannabis for Medical Purposes
    Dr. Andrew Weil (nationally recognized professor of internal medicine and founder of the National Integrative Medicine Council)

    State and Local Organizations

    Alaska Nurses Association
    Being Alive: People With HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)
    California Academy of Family Physicians
    California Nurses Association
    California Pharmacists Association
    Colorado Nurses Association
    Connecticut Nurses Association
    Florida Governor’s Red Ribbon Panel on AIDS
    Florida Medical Association
    Hawaii Nurses Association
    Illinois Nurses Association
    Life Extension Foundation
    Medical Society of the State of New York
    Mississippi Nurses Association
    New Jersey State Nurses Association
    New Mexico Medical Society
    New Mexico Nurses Association
    New York County Medical Society
    New York State Nurses Association
    North Carolina Nurses Association
    Rhode Island Medical Society
    Rhode Island State Nurses Association
    San Francisco Mayor’s Summit on AIDS and HIV
    San Francisco Medical Society
    Vermont Medical Marijuana Study Committee
    Virginia Nurses Association
    Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)
    Wisconsin Nurses Association

  • mike

    Bob proves, once again, that he knows nothing aside from what anti pot propaganda he’s been fed his entire life. riddle me this, Bob, in what world does it make sense to make nature illegal?

  • Harr

    The biggest impact of legalizing medical marijuana is to find more important tasks for law enforcement and to find alternative funding sources for law enforcement, as they have become reliant on asset forfeiture via seizure. Transitioning law enforcement to focus on public safety rather than highway robbery is the biggest challenge.

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