SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Utah voters my decide on legalizing medical marijuana in 2018.
The initial paperwork for a ballot initiative was submitted Monday morning by Utah Patients Coalition .
Advocates of medical marijuana say the conservative ballot proposal is the best approach after years of roadblocks by state lawmakers.
“Our goals with this ballot initiative are very simple: relieve suffering and heal illness,” Melissa Butler, hospice nurse and ballot initiative sponsor.
Hestevan Hennessy has Cerebral palsy and suffers from chronic pain and seizures. A side-effect of his medicine blocks his brain from signaling he needs to breathe.
“We haven’t used it but it offers hope when he is at his worst,” Desiree Hennessy said, Hestevan’s mother and ballot initiative sponsor.
Desiree worries Hestevan will stop breathing if she takes too long to get the mail.
“I stood in the dollar store and I bought Play dough and a few other small little toys to keep in a drawer in my kitchen so if he quit breathing and I didn’t think I could fix it, I could tell my girls to go distract themselves so they wouldn’t have to watch their brother die,” Desiree said.
Desiree believes cannabis might help Hestevan’s seizures and allow him to stop taking his current medication.
She was there as Utah Patients Coalition dropped of the ballot initiative paperwork to legalize medical cannabis by Jan 1, 2021.
“This proposal is very conservative, very regulated, probably more so than any other state in the Union that has enacted medical cannabis reform,” DJ Schanz said, Utah Patients Coalition.
The ballot measure uses 95% of the same language from Senate Bill 73.
It would prohibit smoking marijuana, public use and home grows. It also limits physicians, recommended conditions and dispensaries, while regulating facilities.
“We didn’t have another option. But we have hope that cannabis would be that option. I want to be free to choose. I want to be free to have the right to try something else,” Hennessy said.
Advocates will need to gather more than 112,000 voter signatures to put on the 2018 ballot.
Utah Patients Coalition must now wait for initial approval from the state. They aim to have signatures gathered by the beginning of the next legislative session.
Language in the ballot measure would allow it to override any legislative action, if approved by voters.