Vanessa Kyrobie is a wife and mother of two children, one boy and one girl, living in Utah. She reports that using medical cannabis has changed her life drastically, and that without it, she may not be here today.
Suffering from a bacterial brain infection, Vanessa’s symptoms include nerve pain, intense body aches, nausea, headaches, insomnia, and more. She is prescribed to take nine different pharmaceuticals every single day to treat her debilitating symptoms, and those pills come with adverse side effects.
The infection left her “essentially bed-ridden,” for a period of time, and her symptoms were so devitalizing that she contemplated suicide. “The nausea was pretty intense, and the pain in my body was beyond unbearable, level eight, nine, 10,” Vanessa said. “I honestly feel if it wasn’t for medical marijuana, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Gabapentin was for nerve pain, Microzene was my anti-nausea,” Vanessa explained. “I haven’t used any of these since switching to medical marijuana.”
Medical Marijuana in Utah
Preferring to vaporize and eat gummies containing a five to one ratio of CBD to THC, now that it is legal in Utah, Vanessa uses medical cannabis three times per day.
Refusing to break the law, Vanessa waited until December 3, 2018, the day the Utah Medical Cannabis Act went into effect, to begin using medical marijuana. Her quality of life has increased dramatically in the short time since implementing this alternative treatment plan that was recommended by her doctor.
“I’m actually having more energy, and I’m sleeping better,” Vanessa said. The pain is now down to level three and four. It’s been life changing for me.”
Medical marijuana will not be available to patients in the Beehive State until 2021 when the “pharmacies,” which will distribute the medication, are expected to open. In the meantime, if a patient is caught bringing medical cannabis into Utah from a neighboring state like Nevada or Colorado, he or she will not be prosecuted as long as it has been recommended as treatment by a physician.
Photos courtesy of KUTV
Next month, voters in seven states will get the chance to approve or reject a number of far-reaching marijuana proposals. But one thing many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to wait until November 6 to make your voice heard: many states allow for early or absentee voting, and people across the country are already voting on cannabis initiatives today, as you read this.
Before getting into the specifics, an important aside about voter registration deadlines: They’re coming up hot. You can check your state’s registration deadline here.
OK, back to early voting on cannabis. Marijuana Moment compiled a list of each major state and local marijuana-related initiative that will appear on ballots. They range widely—from proposals to fully legalize cannabis in Michigan to amending the definition of industrial hemp in Colorado—and some will only go before voters in specific cities or counties.
There’s a lot of information to review before heading to the polls, but fortunately, there’s still about a month to go.
But for those who are eager to make their votes count sooner rather than later, many places with cannabis questions provide ways to cast your ballot early via mail or in-person before Election Day.
Here’s when early or absentee voting starts in states where marijuana will be on the ballot:
A proposal to amend the definition of industrial hemp under the Colorado constitution.
Ballots handed out to voters who request them: October 5*
*A county clerk “must begin issuing mail ballots to any eligible elector who requests one in person at the county clerk’s office” by this date. Otherwise, mail ballots will be sent to voters between October 15 and 22.
A proposal to fully legalize marijuana for adult-use.
Absentee voting begins: County clerks begin sending out mail-in ballots* September 22
*Non-military Michigan voters must qualify for absentee voting. Individuals must either be over 60 years old, unable to vote without assistance, planning to be out of town on Election Day, in jail awaiting trial, have a conflicting religious event or have been appointed to work “as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.”
Three competing proposals to legalize medical cannabis.
Absentee voting begins: September 25*
*Missouri voters must qualify for absentee voting. Individuals must either be physically incapable to vote due to illness or disability, planning to be out of town on Election Day, in jail awaiting trial, have a conflicting religious event, have been appointed to work an election official or currently involved in a confidentiality program due to safety concerns.
A proposal to fully legalize marijuana for adult-use.
Absentee voting begins: September 27
Early voting begins: Counties may begin offering early voting as soon as October 22. Consult your county’s election office, as start dates vary.
Proposals in six municipalities across Ohio to locally decriminalize cannabis.
Early voting begins: October 10
Absentee voting begins: October 10
A proposal to legalize medical cannabis.
Absentee voting begins: For military and oversees residents, mail-in ballots will be sent out by September 22. Other mail-in ballots will be sent out by October 16. Absentee ballot applications must be submitted by October 30.
Early voting begins: October 23*
*Be sure to check your county’s early voting poll dates here.
Non-binding advisory questions in 16 counties asking voters to weigh in on medical or adult-use cannabis legalization.
Absentee voting: Requests for an absentee ballot must be submitted by November 1
Early voting begins: September 22*
*The bulk of Wisconsin municipalities allow for early voting starting September 22, but there’s no statewide timeline so check with your municipal clerk to confirm. The University of Wisconsin maintains a list of updated early voting dates here.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
The Marijuana Election Has Already Begun. No Need To Wait Until November 6 To Vote On Cannabis
Are federal agents trying to interfere with a state medical cannabis effort despite President Trump’s pledge to respect local marijuana policies?
New public documents show that a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) task force is officially affiliated with a group that’s doing everything it can to derail a proposed Utah initiative to legalize medical marijuana.
Drug Safe Utah, an organization representing opponents of the initiative such as the Utah Medical Association and the DEA Salt Lake City Metro Narcotics Task Force, is actively recruiting paid canvassers to encourage voters who signed the cannabis ballot petition to rescind their signatures. The Salt Lake Tribune first reported the DEA task force’s affiliation on Thursday.
Last month, organizers behind the proposed Utah medical cannabis initiative met two key requirements to qualify the measure’s inclusion on the state ballot in November: They collected received more than 113,000 total signatures and exceeded the signature threshold in more than 26 of the state’s 29 Senate districts, according to county clerks.
Days later, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who recently came out in support of medial cannabisaccess and research, met with representatives from the Utah Medical Association. The discussion centered on “medical marijuana research, puns, and finding real alternatives to addictive opioids,” according to a tweet from Hatch’s official account. Drug Safe Utah’s primary officer, Michelle McOmber, is also the CEO of the Utah Medical Association.
“While there has been opposition [to legalization initiatives] in other states, the opposition we’re seeing here, we think, is unprecedented,” DJ Schanz, director of the Utah Patients Coalition told Marijuana Moment in an interview. “It’s just kind of bizarre that a federal agency can weigh in like that.”
The DEA task force was not immediately available to comment on the nature of its involvement in the anti-legalization group, but it is listed as “an organization affiliated with the [political issues committee]” in a statement of organization filed on April 27.
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The apparent endorsement of an anti-legalization group by the DEA comes at a time when the executive branch is moving in the opposite direction, with President Donald Trump pledging to back congressional efforts to protect states where marijuana is legal. The president has also repeatedly said that he supports medical marijuana “100 percent” and knows people who have benefitted from it.
Then There’s the Ethics Question
It’s unclear whether DEA affiliation with a political campaign to block medical marijuana legalization amounts to a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits certain types of partisan political activity by federal employees.
Kathleen Clark, an ethics law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told Marijuana Moment that the “key word” was “partisan.”
“I believe that in general, it does not reach ballot initiatives that aren’t associated with a party,” she said. However, she expressed uncertainty over the involvement of a federal agency in state-level ballot initiatives, and questioned whether the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which formally established the DEA’s task force program, permits this type of activity.
Marijuana Moment reached out to the Justice Department for clarification, but it did not respond by the time of publication. Drug Safe Utah also did not acknowledge requests for comment.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
DEA Task Force Backs Group Fighting Medical Marijuana in Utah
Dozens of people, including Utah District Attorney Sam Gill, took to the rotunda of the Utah state capitol to express support for medical marijuana reform legislation currently under consideration by the state government.
“I think the legislature in the 21st century can certainly come up with a pathway to prescription and access to medical marijuana, and we need to recognize our antiquated drug policies as a blanket policy is a failed policy,”
said Gill in an interview. “It does not capture the complexity of individuals who are in our community with medical needs.”
Both of the two bills under consideration by the state legislature would allow certain cannabis-derived products to be distributed in-state through the Utah Department of Agriculture and the Utah Department of Health. The bills differ, however, differ on which products distributors would be permitted to sell.
Gill was flanked by advocates who extolled the practical virtues of medical cannabis, with many offering personal stories as to how their lives were, or may have been, improved through the use of medical cannabis.
“They are the faces and souls and hearts which we are criminalizing as a result of failed drug policy,”
“I will prosecute whoever you want me to prosecute, and I will put in jail whoever you want…But we all have to play a role when it comes to public policy, and I can tell you, from where I stand, these are not the faces of criminals and these are not the people I want to be prosecuting.”
Gill intimated that he could offer leniency in prosecuting an individual for marijuana possession if that person offered proof that the product was being used for treatment.
“We may offer a plea in abeyance,” he said. “We may say you won’t end up with a conviction and go through the processes that are available to you.”