New poll shows more than 75 percent of Utahns support medical marijuana ballot initiative

This June 6, 2017, photo, Utah resident Doug Rice administers the CBD oil Haleigh's Hope, a cannabis compound used by his daughter Ashley at their home in West Jordan, Utah. Utah lawmakers balked again this year at joining more than half of all U.S. states and passing a broad medical marijuana law. Rice says Utah's approach means his daughter, who has a genetic condition, is missing out on the one drug that eliminates her frequent seizures. Utah already allows cannabidiol to be used by people with severe epilepsy, as long as they obtain it from other states. | AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – According to the results of a recent poll released Monday, more than 75 percent of Utah voters support a proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Utah.

Published in The Salt Lake Tribune, the poll shows 78 percent of registered Utah voters strongly and somewhat support the 2018 ballot initiative. Twenty percent of those not in favor of the measure were evenly split between strongly and somewhat opposed, with 3 percent undecided.

The poll was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates and has a margin for error of plus or minus 3.95 percent.

We’re happy to see that,” Doug Rice, a member of the Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, or TRUCE, said over the phone Monday.

Doug Rice, who is a retired firefighter and paramedic living in Salt Lake County, is one of the signers of the medical marijuana ballot initiative that was filed in June by the Utah Patients Coalition.

Doug Rice is a medical marijuana advocate due to his 24-year-old daughter Ashley Rice. She has Angelman’s Syndrome and as a part of that she is epileptic and has the mind of a 3-year-old, her father said.

This June 6, 2017, photo, Utah resident Doug Rice, hold his daughter Ashley, 24, following a seizure at their home in West Jordan, Utah. Utah lawmakers balked again this year at joining more than half of all U.S. states and passing a broad medical marijuana law. Rice says Utah’s approach means his daughter, who has a genetic condition, is missing out on the one drug that eliminates her frequent seizures. | AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, St. George News

The Rices have been able to reduce seizure attacks thanks to a 2014 Utah law allowing approved individuals to use cannabidoil, a hemp extract, to treat epilepsy. However, they have to travel to Colorado to get the oil as it remains prohibited in Utah.

While Ashley Rice has benefited from the CBD cannabis oil extract, it hasn’t been as effective as his daughter has gotten older. When they traveled to Colorado to get the cannabis oil, Doug Rice said he bought some edible gummies for his daughter that contained THC and combined it with her CBD oil treatment.

“We saw total seizure control,” Doug Rice said.

The medical marijuana is seen as a far better alternative to regular medicines for the 24-year-old, due to the latter rendering her “a zombie” and not her usual self, her father said.

“Our insurance was willing to pay $800 for medicines that left my daughter a zombie,” Doug Rice said.

However, legislators like Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, have told him to be patient and wait on the results of state-approved research.

Earlier this year the Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Daw authorizing research into medical marijuana.

However, after years of failing to pass medical marijuana policy, a ballot initiative effort was started by advocates and patients.

We shouldn’t have the Legislature in the medicine cabinet,” Doug Rice said.

Daw told the Salt Lake Tribune he believes the initiative is too broad. While he said he has seen support for the initiative among his constituents, he said they also want strict regulated medical marijuana usage if legalized.

“The fact that they want the initiative doesn’t surprise me,” Daw told The Salt Lake Tribune. “However, I think once they understand what’s in the initiative, they will pull back.”

Utah lawmakers have also been hesitant to move on approving medical marijuana due to uncertainty concerning the stance on the subject by the Donald Trump administration. While some states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use, it remains illegal on the federal level.

Still, support for medical marijuana legalization remains high, according to the polls. The results of the Dan Jones poll are similar to those of a recent poll commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune that was conducted by the Hinkley Institute of Politics. The results of that poll show that 77 percent of Utahns either strongly or somewhat support medical marijuana.

Jon Huntsman, Sr. speaking on medical marijuana usage in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah, July 12, 2017 | Photo courtesy of,, St. George News

The results of the Dan Jones poll were released in the wake of Jon Huntsman Sr., one of Utah’s more prominent residents, spoke in favor of medical marijuana and a willingness to try it during an interview with Fox 13 News.

“I’m a very strong advocate for medical marijuana,” Huntsman Sr. said. “I think some folks have it terribly confused with smoking marijuana.”

Huntsman is a four-time cancer survivor and refuses to take opioid-based medications due to worries over side effects and a general inability to relieve his pain.

“I won’t take the opioids, I’ll take the pain,” Huntsman said of the current treatments.

Aside from relief for chronic pain, medical marijuana advocates have said the plant is able to treat various ailments and maladies.

Under the ballot initiative, ailments that would qualify for medical marijuana use include Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and autism.

There are so many things this stupid plant can help,” Doug Rice said, claiming it can also help individuals who deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, the initiative does prohibit smoking marijuana and driving under its influence.

In order to get on the 2018 ballot, the initiative needs to gather over 130,000 signatures from 26 of the state’s 29 counties. It is also required to hold seven public hearings across the state, which it recently wrapped up.

Attendees at the hearings were “overwhelmingly supportive,” Doug Rice said.

We just want access to it,” he said. “I’m tired of waiting.”

Highlights of the initiative

  • It would allow whole plant marijuana.
  • Require physician oversight for prescriptions, as well as limit the number of physicians who can prescribe it.
  • Limit how much medical marijuana a patient can obtain over a 14-day period.
  • Limit dispensaries to 1 for every 150,000 residents. Also limit where a dispensary can be located.
  • Caregivers who administer medical cannabis to patients must be able to pass background checks.
  • Maintain prohibitions on the public use of cannabis, driving under the influence of cannabis, and smoking cannabis.
  • Authorize the cultivation of cannabis without a license by a patient only after Jan. 1, 2021, and only if a cannabis dispensary is not operating within 100 miles of the patient’s home, as long as any cultivation is not within 300 feet of an area zoned exclusively for residential use or within 600 feet from a community location. This cultivation must take place in an enclosed and locked space.
  • Qualifying illnesses include: HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and other ailments.


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • January20 August 2, 2017 at 7:45 am

    What a joke! They didn’t poll me and I’m not in favor of it. They must of polled all only people in favor of it!

    • LocalTourist August 2, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Feeling left out?
      You’re one of the minority, that 23% who don’t think this is a good idea. I’d love to hear your reasons for opposition, because I’ll bet every one of them is either about recreational use (rather than medical) or is some fear of abuse based on unfounded rumors from another state….. here’s your chance, let it rip……

    • LocalDad August 2, 2017 at 10:07 am

      I am for it. Why aren’t you for? I’m willing to honesty hear you reasoning.

      I know they are saying that there hasn’t been enough research. It’s the main reason our legislators are telling us they’re not going to pass these laws that make marijuana available to people who need it. But what if you found out they were lying through their teeth, would it change your mind if they new it was an anticarcinogen, if it didn’t harm the human brain, if it was a really healthy alternative for opium derived medicines; could any of that persuade you into thinking that maybe it is time we allow it for treating people who aren’t getting the help they need?

    • LocalTourist August 2, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      Actually, I can see why you oppose cannabis. I mean, one look at the photos and it’s obvious there is no medical need, and this guy just wants to get high, right?

  • LocalTourist August 2, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I’m in total agreement. The “Powers That Be” have lied to citizens for years about the danger of this plant. Utah citizens should have the same freedoms other citizens enjoy. Get the state out of my medicine cabinet and let me take care of me.
    The ballot initiative provides for the controls that are needed to minimize the chances of abuse, while giving access to people that can benefit from it. If a patient has an illness that isn’t listed, the ballot initiative provides for a board of review that your doctor can ask for approval to use in your instance.
    It’s time.

    • Brian August 2, 2017 at 10:17 am

      I’d be more than happy to have the state out of my medicine cabinet if they’d also get out of my healthcare and out of my pocket.

      But as long as the state is picking our pockets to pay for someone else’s healthcare, the state also gets a say in said health choices. This is why everyone should be against obamacare and single payer healthcare: it gives the state permission to regulate every aspect of our lives and effectively nullifies the Constitution and personal / parental rights. Just ask the parents of Charlie Gard. This is also why the powers that be want single payer so badly. The could care less about your health, they just want the power.

  • Real Life August 2, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Anyone against this for medical purposes has their, ahem, underwear on a little too tight.

  • LocalDad August 2, 2017 at 10:14 am

    They say it hasn’t been researched.
    They say it causes cancer.
    They say it causes emphysema.
    They say it causes brain damage.
    They say they know it is a gateway drug.
    They say it causes paranoia and psychosis.
    They say it hasn’t been researched.
    Then how did they know all the bad stuff it does?

    I want them legalize hemp, the plant that isn’t a drug, when they do legalize medical marijuana. And they finally Legalize It, they will Legalize It recreationally, but by the time Utah does, we’ll be so far behind in the industry that it will be laughable.

  • comments August 2, 2017 at 11:10 am

    We here mormons don’t need the devil’s week here in God’s land of zion. We mormons have been blessed with The Lord’s miracle that is oxycodone, praise the Lord!

    • comments August 2, 2017 at 11:11 am

      *the devil’s weed

      lol 😉

    • Henry August 2, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      You actually raised a good point, Bob. I bet many of these people suffering from pain (and logically wanting to avoid the horrible side effects of opioids) are driving to Nevada to obtain marijuana.

      Seems like it would be better for these Utahns to be legally able to try marijuana for pain relief here, and under the supervision of a physician. Hopefully the initiative proponents are successful in getting it on the ballot.

      • comments August 2, 2017 at 10:36 pm

        hopefully. you know i poke fun at it, but i find the hypocrisy of the mormon theocracy in UT somewhat maddening. I actually have had a couple relatives die from opiates. 1 from heroin OD and one from oxycodone OD. It’s been years ago now, but in the mormon land of zion the problem is mostly just swept under the rug.

  • Utahguns August 2, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Get the church out of government……

    • radioviking August 3, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      Yes!!! Get Utah politicians to know how to think for themselves and represent their constituents without acting like children and waiting for orders from LDS “prophets, seers, and revelators”!

  • Kilroywashere August 2, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    1910. Utah been there dun that. Worked out for some. All about $. Yes, It has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times . Maybe somthin to that you all.

  • fixitfairy August 2, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    I honestly would want more information prior to making a decision on voting. I want to study objective research done on the long term financial and social burdens to the tax payer; health, addiction, legal, education, etc. It doesn’t really exist though.
    There are known risk factors, it’s not just an organic little miracle plant. Most THC is now biochemically engineered and has had drastic genetic changes in the last twenty years. I do know from personal experience with family members, as well as professionally, that people suffer THC addiction that results in a negative effect on family and society. Withdrawal is real; change in mood, increased angry outbursts, depression, etc. when use is interrupted.
    The doctors my family members utilize are known for falsifying diagnosis to support the patients obtaining multiple THC medical cards, (“prescriptions”) as long as they have lots of cash in hand for each card. Evidently the criteria for obtaining the cards isn’t strictly enforced. At all. They use it like some people smoke cigarettes. Smoking, vaping THC oil, immediately before or while driving with their kids in the car, and they have no problem with using when pregnant.
    I would never want ANYONE to suffer that would truly benefit from medicinal THC. It goes without saying that opioids are extremely addictive and toxic. I’ve encountered many cultures that use more holistic approaches to manage the symptoms we treat with synthetics, narcotics and THC. I think as a culture in the US we are very quick to look for the quick fix. Obviously that doesn’t apply to managing severe seizure syndromes etc.
    I’m a “live and let live” type person, as long as there aren’t any innocent people harmed in the “living” of others. Those that manipulate the system will inevitably do harm. I have a feeling, unfortunately, that the people who will genuinely benefit from passing this legislation will be the minority of those obtaining it. There will be an exponential effect that will affect the majority.

    • comments August 3, 2017 at 11:58 am

      The question is, can it ever come close to the overall destructive effects of alcohol on society? I have no idea.

  • utahdiablo August 3, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Those Dips at Dan Jones forgot me and the wife too, along with all my neighbors who also did not get contacted, so I call BS on this “Poll”….we shall see if it passes if it gets on the ballot, in the meantime, drive your butts to Colorado or Nevada to get your Medical MJ….leave me and my family out of it

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