SALT LAKE CITY — It didn't go anywhere in the legislative session, but a new poll shows if a majority of Utahns get their way, medical marijuana will eventually be legalized in the Beehive State.
A poll released Wednesday says two-thirds of the state is in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Some say it's not that easy to just legalize it, but others argue it's time to help patients.
“There is movement and there is hope,” said Christine Stenquist, President of TRUCE and candidate for the House of Representatives.
For years, Christine Stenquist has advocated for Utah patients like herself in need of medical marijuana.
“Someone told me three years ago this would never happen in Utah. Utah would be the last state that would ever adopt such a program,” Stenquist said.
But a new poll published Wednesday by Dan Jones and Associates shows only 28 percent of Utahns oppose legislation and 66 percent are in support of medical marijuana.
“I think it’s reflecting 'Do people want to help other people in pain?' and of course they do,” said Derek Monson, Director of Public Policy at The Sutherland Institute.
The numbers aren't surprising to The Sutherland Institute, a conservative public policy think tank, but they argue it's not as simple as passing a bill.
“What the poll didn’t get into is some of the deeper realities of that were being debated at the Legislature: What do you do about THC? How do you distribute? Is it prescribed by doctors? Do you do it with a pharmacy? Through an independent shop?,” Monson said.
Stenquist says focusing on made-up problems is keeping people in pain.
“We don’t have time. A lot of patients don’t have time. We’ve had people who have fled since the session because they need access and they needed it now,” Stenquist said.
Twenty years ago, doctors found Stenquist had a brain tumor. Complications in surgery left her with chronic migraines and pain. Pain that didn't go away until she got medical marijuana. She doesn't want others to have to wait for that relief.
“That’s a little concerning because what that almost says is we need to help people we can see in pain, even if it causes pain to others, and I don’t know how you can reasonably maintain that position,” Monson said.
Stenquist hopes to see the favor rates keep growing.
“I don’t think we’re going backwards on this issue. We will only be going forward,” Stenquist said.
Stenquist says she is working to help shape a bill for 2017 and she's working with a ballot initiative group. She is also now throwing her political hat into the ring, running for the House to give patients a voice.