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Guest opinion: This mother supports Proposition 2

In this Aug. 1, 2018, photo, Christine Glenn sorts marijuana at the Blum marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas. Nevada regulators and industry insiders say the state's first year of adult-use marijuana sales has exceeded their expectations. (AP Photo/John Loc
In this Aug. 1, 2018, photo, Christine Glenn sorts marijuana at the Blum marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas. Nevada regulators and industry insiders say the state's first year of adult-use marijuana sales has exceeded their expectations.
John Locher

The opposing forces rallying against the Utah Medical Cannabis Act now claim to support medical cannabis and argue that they are compassionate. I admit that it’s hard to believe them when they have, for several years, been actively opposing any effort to provide access to medical cannabis for people like my son.

I adopted Hestevan when he was 8—a challenge I was willing to take on despite knowing he had severe disabilities. My son has cerebral palsy and periventricular leukomalacia. In plain English, he has significant brain damage resulting in overwhelming, constant pain, along with steady amounts of bodily seizures and breathing challenges.

Every day, I wonder if it will be my son’s last. The excruciating nerve pain he feels throughout his body is not lessened by prescription drugs. They simply don’t work. He screams, and he suffers.

So please imagine what it’s like for me to see mothers like me in other states whose sons with these conditions are receiving help, gratefully and miraculously, from the cannabis plant.

No, it might not be purchased in a pharmacy. No, doctors can’t write a formal prescription beyond issuing a medical marijuana card. No, they don’t know the specific dosing; decades of federal prohibition have made all of this difficult.

But that medical cannabis is a saving miracle for many families like mine. My problem? I live in Utah.

And so I’ve pleaded with lawmakers for years to enact a broader program. I was met with indifference and shrugs of shoulders. Our plight was not heard on Capitol Hill. So you can perhaps understand why I wholeheartedly support Proposition 2.

Why? It provides my son the opportunity to live pain free. It has enough safeguards in place to assure me that it’s not going to be abused, even though cannabis is currently illegal and yet found anywhere in our state by people using it anyway. Innocent patients shouldn’t suffer in the meantime, and Prop 2 can fix that.

But opponents are now claiming that they support medical cannabis — just not this specific proposal. They want to kill the chance voters have in November to speak their mind, and they want to instead pass something watered down that the Legislature can instead control — the same group of elected officials who had their chance and wouldn’t help.

Let me say this clearly: My LDS faith leads me to oppose recreational drugs. Like most moms out there, I don’t want any medications to be abused. But unlike most people, I’ve read the 28 pages of the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. And you know what? I’m strongly convinced that it has enough safeguards in place. It’s a conservative, heavily regulated program. It can work, even better than it has in 30 other states.

So despite the misleading claims about what’s actually in Prop 2, and the claims of some opponents that they somehow support medical cannabis all of a sudden, I’m going to do what’s best for my son. I’m going to vote to legalize medical cannabis so we can help his pain.

I’m going to vote for Prop 2, and I encourage compassionate Utahns everywhere to do the same.

Correction: A previous version stated medical cannabis is not purchased in a dispensary and that doctors can't write a formal prescription for it. In most states with legal medical cannabis laws, the drug is purchased at a dispensary rather than a pharmacy, and doctors issue patients a medical marijuana card to obtain it.