Andrew Smith

In the wake of the failure of SB 73, Utah’s whole-plant medical cannabis bill, frustrated patients and medical cannabis advocates have decided to take a more aggressive approach in pushing their compassionate agenda.

They’re going after lawmakers’ jobs.

Christine Stenquist, President of TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), said that “patients are going to go after seats. We’re going to go after those votes.”

Stenquist said that TRUCE had been hoping to get a new initiative on the 2016 ballot, but that it’s too late for that now. Instead, the group will put money toward creating a political action committee and that will work toward capturing seats held by legislators who have voted against medical cannabis.

“Effectively, three strikes you’re out. We have tried legislatively and they won’t listen,” she said.

At Stenquist’s side on the Utah Capitol’s steps following SB 73’s defeat was medical cannabis patient Amanda Ellis-Graham, who says she was “in a wheelchair for about four to five years — housebound in a wheelchair.”

Ellis-Graham says cannabis is the reason she’s walking again, but she’s forced to buy it illegally. “It’s very sad to think that I might have to leave my own state where I grew up, where my family is, so I’m not a criminal,” she said.

Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clearfield), one of eight lawmakers who voted against the bill, claimed that “Our hands are tied on the federal level and they are working on the wrong level. The fight is on the federal level.”

Although Utah refuses to, 23 other states have legalized medical cannabis, and the Obama administration has refrained from enforcing federal law in those states.

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