Andrew Smith

Well-Known Utah Philanthropist Backs MMJ

As advocates in Utah have begun their bid to put a medical cannabis ballot initiative to voters in 2018, well-known philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr. has come out in support of medical cannabis therapies, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. His son, Jon Huntsman Jr. is the former governor of Utah and recently accepted a position in the federal government as the ambassador to Russia.

Huntsman, a four-time cancer survivor who suffers from polymyalgia rheumatic – a condition that causes severe pain in the hip and shoulder joints – admitted that “he won’t take opioids” but he’d “love to” try medical cannabis.

“If medical marijuana was known by another name, it would have been utilized as a pain medication many years ago,” he said in the report. “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.”

In a statement, the Utah Patient Coalition called Huntsman, the founder of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, “a pioneer in advocacy and philanthropy for patient care.”

“Like so many other patients, he recognizes the dangers of opiates and wants an alternative,” the statement said. “We appreciate his public support and look forward to giving Utah voters a chance to decide in 2018.”

Petitioners need to collect 113,143 signatures to put the question to voters. The measure would legalize medical cannabis in the form of topicals, edibles, oils, and vapeable products but does not permit smoking as a delivery method.

If the language of the measure is approved, the proposal will be sent to the governor’s Office of Management and Budget who will estimate the fiscal impact of the bill. After the estimate, organizers must hold seven public hearings on the measure throughout the state before collecting the signatures.

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