A supermajority of Utah citizens – 78 percent – support the medical cannabis ballot initiative being circulated by advocates in the state, according to a Dan Jones & Associates poll commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics. The campaign is headed by the Utah Patients Coalition who need to collect 11,143 valid signatures by registered voters by April 15 in order to put the issue to voters in November 2018.
The poll, which surveyed 605 Utah voters, found the issue has the support of 97 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans in the state. Advocates can count Jon Huntsman Sr. among those supporters – the philanthropist and father of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman last month threw his support behind the measure.
“If medical marijuana was known by another name, it would have been utilized as a pain medication many years ago,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “From national research and understanding, the side effects of medical marijuana are considerably less than virtually all opioids and therefore less destructive to the body.”
The supermajority is nearly 25 percentage points higher than a January poll commissioned by Tribune-Hinckley, which found 54 percent supported medical cannabis.
Despite the public support, state Rep. Brad Daw believes that the initiative in its current form is too broad and that once voters see what’s in the initiative “they will pull back,” although he admitted that the poll results don’t surprise him because he has seen similar levels of support among his constituents, according to a Tribune report.
In Utah, patients with severe epilepsy are currently able to acquire hemp extract registration cards that allow them to import whole-plant CBD oil from states with medical cannabis programs. According to the report, from July 2014 to October 2016 just 166 such cards were issued.
This past week, the coalition held 10 public meetings on the issue as required by law to advance a ballot initiative. The measure would allow individuals suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease to access the program.