The Southwest corner of the United States has become an indubitable hotbed for the cannabis movement. Both California and Nevada are preparing their own recreational systems, and although Arizona rejected full-scale legalization last November, they’ve still got a relatively robust medical system in place. The wild west truly is the cannabis capital of the world - that is of course, until you reach the ultra-conservative state of Utah.
Over the weekend, representatives in the Beehive State continued to suppress access to medical marijuana, striking down a resolution that would support treatment for a variety of medical conditions. After a lengthy debate of the floor, state GOP representatives rejected the proposed measure by a whopping 41% margin.
Rep. DJ Schanz brought the resolution to the table, and other supporters shared stories of patients who would benefit from access to medical cannabis. However, Republican opponents stuck to their guns, using the tiresome “gateway drug” argument, and expressing fears about medical legislation leading to full-scale recreational legalization.
The dissenting vote follows in line with recent decisions by the Utah State Legislature, with a majority of representatives hesitant to pass any bills beyond “CBD-only” use. Still, supporters of the rejected resolution will continue to gather signatures and raise money to get the issue on the upcoming ballot in 2018.
Although cannabis support has been a blip on Utah’s political radar, it hasn’t exactly been nonexistent either. Last year, Mike Weinholtz, the Democratic candidate for state governor, came out to publicly advocate for medical marijuana after his wife was charged with a misdemeanor for pot possession. She had been using cannabis to treat her arthritis and degenerative spinal conditions.
Most importantly, the anti-cannabis stance of the local GOP doesn’t reflect that of their constituents. Back in October, a Utah Policy poll found that 63 percent of Utah residents support medical marijuana legalization. If the issue ends up on the upcoming ballot and receives support tantamount to the poll’s findings, state representatives might have to actually start listening to their voters.