Park City forum will tackle legalization of medical marijuana
While Utahns debate the benefits and potential pitfalls of medical marijuana legalization ahead of casting a vote on Proposition 2, the Project for Deeper Understanding, a Park City issue group, plans to host a panel discussion to address the controversial topic.
The Utah Patient’s Coalition is leading the ballot initiative campaign to establish a program that will make medical marijuana available to patients in Utah who are suffering from various illnesses, including cancer, seizures and other life-threatening conditions.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and several other groups have actively campaigned against Proposition 2 since Utah Patient’s Coalition gathered enough signatures for the initiative to appear on the November ballot.
Rev. Charles Robinson, of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which organizes the Project for Deeper Understanding forums, said medical marijuana is an important issue.
“It touches a lot of lives and people have strong opinions about it,” he said.
Medical marijuana was identified as the topic for the Project for Deeper Understanding’s upcoming discussion because no other venues in Summit County were addressing it, Robinson said. The forum is scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The two-hour event will feature panelists who represent various viewpoints in the argument. It will include a question-and-answer segment with the audience.
“I’ve found that the passion and disagreement isn’t around whether or not this particular compound should be used as medically,” he said. “But, the differences have to do in how the initiative is written.”
Proposition 2 seeks to protect terminal or seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution for using medical marijuana, according to the Utah Patients Coalition. The Utah Medical Cannabis Act outlines details surrounding restrictions, revenue generated from a medical marijuana program and the creation of an electronic verification system to track patient use. It would establish a licensing process for businesses to dispense, cultivate, process and test cannabis.
Opponents of the initiative, however, say it does not include proper safeguards to prevent recreational users from accessing marijuana.
“There is a lot of interest in the community because almost all of us know someone that has had some kind of chronic pain issue or is having to deal with side effects of chemotherapy,” Robinson said. “Oftentimes additional approaches aren’t working and many people have found the use of cannabis effective.”
For more than a decade, the Project for Deeper Understanding has held forums to raise awareness about pressing issues, such as Medicaid expansion and fake news, as well as growth and traffic. Robinson said this is the first time the discussion will focus on a pharmaceutical.
“This will give us an opportunity to step back and really look at its use,” he said. “There are so many stereotypes that surround it.”
Robinson described his experience with a family member whose son used marijuana recreationally. He said marijuana ended up acting as a gateway drug for his relative and he became addicted to heroin.
“My experience with my relative is that because of that dark shadow, you can’t even have a conversation with her about the medical use,” he said. “I bet my relative isn’t the only person who hears marijuana and immediately starts to think of all the things that happen with abuse.
“But, I hope we will come away from the evening acknowledging that and also thinking it can be very helpful with lots of patients,” he added.
The panelists who will be featured at the forum are: Erin Brown, a nutritionist with expertise in cannabis; State Rep. Brad Daw; Nathan Frodsham, a former board member of TRUCE Utah; Jessica Reade Gleim, a patient who benefited from medical marijuana use; DJ Schanz, director of Utah Patients Coalition; and Andrew Talbott, a representative of TRUCE Utah.
The discussion is free and open to the public.
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