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According to a poll by Utah Policy, 66 percent of Utahns support legal medical marijuana, administered under the supervision of a prescribing physician.

The polling data indicates stronger support with younger and older demographics. Of voters between ages 18 and 24, 59 percent support medical marijuana legislation, along with 67 percent of voters ages 45 to 54, and 69 percent of voters age 65 and older.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been somewhat supportive of medical marijuana. Among the individuals who were polled as being active in the LDS Church, 55 percent were in favor of medical marijuana. The Church previously stated,

“While we are not in a position to evaluate specific medical claims, the Church understands that there are some individuals who may benefit from the medical use of compounds found in marijuana.”

Senator Mark Madsen originally proposed a bill that was later scaled back to limit the amount of THC. Drug Policy Project of Utah’s Vice President Jessica Reade Gleam expressed concerns for the revised bill.

“While we are concerned that many of the amendments may impede access for patients and could potentially increase the overall cost of the program, Sen. Madsen deserves the sincere appreciation of supporters of medical cannabis for his efforts to address the concerns of many involved in this process and adapt this bill in reflection of those discussions.”

Much of Utah’s medical marijuana legalization efforts have taken a legislative approach, in contrast to other states who legalized cannabis through ballot measures. While this method includes lawmakers in the discussion, it excludes voters from the process. This polling data suggests that a well-crafted ballot measure would pass.

Turner Bitton, president of the Drug Policy Project of Utah explains why a legislative approach suits Utah more than voter initiatives.

“Utahns want somewhat of a compromise,” Bitton said. “They want a tightly regulated program that can’t be accessed by children and teenagers, and they don’t want it to lead to widespread legalization.”

He believes that a legislative approach is the way to deploy a heavily regulated medical marijuana program. “I’m confident in 2017 that it will happen,” said Bitton. Candidates currently campaigning for the Utah governor’s seat support medical marijuana in one form or another. In the Utah Policy poll, 55 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats support medical marijuana, making it a possible campaign issue as November approaches.

kristin kloc

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