Utahns rally for medical marijuana legislation, call for more support

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Posted at 5:21 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 19:48:24-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Medical cannabis supporters rallied at the Utah State Capitol Monday.

About two dozen supporters rallied at the base of the south steps to support current legislation but argue more needs to be done.

READ: More fixes coming to Utah's medical cannabis program

Organizer Sara Stremke’s daughter suffers a spinal disorder and underwent two spinal fusions.

“It’s hard to see her go through it. It was a lot of pain,” said Stremke, who owns OG Cannabis Products in Millcreek.

When Stremke asked the neurosurgeon for a prescription for medical cannabis, “he said he wasn’t opposed to it, he just didn’t know enough about it to feel comfortable prescribing.”

Senate Bill 170 is designed to get physicians more comfortable recommending cannabis.

It would allow health care providers to recommend cannabis for up to 15 patients, after which they have to undergo specialized training and licensing through the state.

READ: Changes to Utah's medical marijuana system take effect

"That’s a good step forward, but [there are] a lot of loopholes that are left unaddressed,” Stremke said.

After voters approved medical cannabis in 2018, the state's program slowly moved forward. The program continues to have issues, which lawmakers are attempting to address in a series of bills this year. That includes adding opioid-use disorder to qualifying conditions in House Bill 210.

“That is one of the biggest steps we can do in trying to move it over and have help out there for all of our friends and family who are addicted to opiates,” said Karlie Cahoon.

Despite lawmakers not being in session Monday, advocates hope their support convinces legislators to vote in favor of the bills.

“If we can help service just a handful of patients get access to get better care and feel comfort, then this is worth it. I’ll stand out here in the snow all day,” said Stremke.

S.B. 170 passed committee and will be voted by the full Senate. Legislators will be back in session Tuesday morning.