This past week, Utah, known especially for it's conservatism and Mormonism , took one step closer to legalizing medical marijuana. According to reports, Utah's Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill allowing for the use of medical marijuana that is currently being heard on the Senate Floor this week.
Introduced by Sen. Mark B. Madsen, Senate Bill 259
would allow Utah citizens that have verifiable debilitating illnesses to obtain marijuana for personal use. Rather than inhaling the herb through your typical rolling paper or wax vape pen
, patients in Utah will only be allowed to ingest cannabis through "gummy" edibles or liquid form.
As with new marijuana legalization in every state thus far, reactions concerning the new proposed legislation are mixed. Advocates, such as the writer of the bill, Sen. Madsen, tout marijuana for it's medical properties in relation to pain management. While on a trip to to Colorado, Madsen described his experience with marijuana and how it treated the intense pain in his lower back. "It has effective analgesic properties. I observed a dimmunition in my level of pain." Madsen also spoke out regarding the misguided information that has been perpetuated by mainstream media for the past 10 years concerning marijuana, and how the basis of this new bill, will be based on fact, not fiction. "Reefer Madness' is neither medical research nor public policy, it's propaganda, and we can't be basing our policy on propaganda."
Further making a case for the proposed bill, marijuana supporters such as executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, believe that if marijuana reform can be passed in a conservative state such as Utah, "it can advance anywhere in the U.S." According to Nadelmann, "medicine is medicine, regardless of one's politics, faith or views about drugs."
So far, opposition for the proposed bill has qualified as nothing less than absurd. Topping the list of the most outrageous claims, DEA special agent, Matt Fairbanks, stated in testimony to the Utah Senate that "Reefer Madness" would cause the state's wildlife to be stoned all the time. If you think is a joke, think again. According to Fairbanks, who's responsible for eliminating marijuana from Utah's back-country landscape, the main purveyors of marijuana crimes in nature, are rabbits, and marijuana legalization would only be contributing to their addiction. When recalling a past event where he encountered one these stoned critters, Fairbanks spoke about the day he realized "rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana...." Stating how: "One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone."
Proving stoned rabbits are a good reason to continue the prohibition of marijuana because it causes their instincts to decrease, is like saying honey should be illegal because it causes diabetes in bears. The rationale just isn't there, but only the Utah Senate will decide if this is a legitimate claim or not. If the bill passes, Utah would become the 24th state to pass legalization for medical marijuana, which would include the issuing of licenses for growers, processors, and dispensaries for qualified patients, as well as your occasional stoned rabbit.