(KUTV) It was an issue that drew more attention than any other in the just ended legislative session. There was plenty of public interest, but in the end, the two bills that would essentially legalize cannabis oil or medical marijuana for a sliver of the population suffering from specific conditions failed.
Some saying it was a quiet death for a very loud issue on the hill. It was an issue forcing a strong statement of opposition from the LDS church. Some say there were too many questions and the bill sponsor said there are too many preconceived ideas that are plainly false when it comes to this issue.
“I don’t see any reason at all from keeping people from this freedom,” Senator Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, told 2News Friday, from St. George, where he was speaking to a Bar Association conference on the issue.
“I always say I’m trying to get Utah to boldly go where only 23 other states have already gone.”
He said he found himself frustrated with his fellow lawmakers, who he believes were simply set in their ways and didn’t fully understand the bill. He said progress was made, even though his bill didn’t pass.
“Getting a chance to talk to people, getting them educated, always a positive thing.”
That’s a point where Christine Stenquist, founder of the advocacy group Truce, agrees.
“I don’t think success was measured in a bill being passed. But I think success was achieved in a bad bill not passing. It was achieved in educating the public,” Stenquist told 2News Friday.
She was recouping at her home, she says after being left exhausted from spending the past 45 days at the Capitol trying to educate lawmakers and push through a measure that would allow patients suffering from epilepsy or chronic pain some relief.
“I’m just a mom who was in bed and then discovered cannabis and it changed my life,” Stenquist, who suffers from chronic pain due to a brain tumor, said. She spoke of the learning process when it came to politics and how slow she is finding it moves.
“I think people shouldn’t give up hope.”
“This next year we’ll work on educating the community and also getting our ballot initiative started and getting patients and everybody to start collecting signatures … so if we fail next legislative session, we can submit our signatures and have something in place for patients.”
Last month, advocates thought they would push to get this issue before voters this year, but in the end felt the time constraints were just too great for the ballot initiative and say they are now pinning their hopes on the next legislative session, all the while gathering those signatures to be ready for a possible ballot initiative next year.
SOURCES: http://www.kutv.com, by AMY NAY