SALT LAKE CITY — A state senator from Salt Lake City drove to Las Vegas and tried marijuana for the first time ahead of an upcoming vote on Proposition 2, which would legalize its use in Utah for individuals with qualifying medical conditions.
KUTV reports Sen. Jim Dabakis wanted to try cannabis before the vote.
Dabakis selected an edible gummy bear for the test, saying legislators should at least try marijuana before it’s up for vote next month.
Dabakis, a Democrat, says in a Facebook video in front of a dispensary that it’s “not a big deal.”
“I wouldn’t recommend it as sheer candy,” he adds. “It’s kind of bitter.”
“It dawned on me (last) Wednesday on the floor of the Senate that the Legislature is going to have the final say on this medical marijuana,” Dabakis said.
Looking around at the other legislators, the senator said something bothered him.
“I thought, ‘Maybe nobody on this floor has ever tried marijuana.’ I think if the Legislature would actually try it they would … realize this is no big deal, and at least let those who are suffering have the help that they need.”
In a follow-up video posted Tuesday morning, Dabakis says, “I survived the Gummy Bear! And I have an opinion.”
So what was the state senator’s verdict?
“I’ll tell you: I think it’s a lot of ho-hum. I think a lot of reefer madness crowd – you guys, you need to try it. It’s not that big a deal.”
Dabakis says he felt “a little high,” but it wasn’t some major, life-changing event.
“So, everybody, mellow out. Recognize this is nothing to be afraid of because the people that are terrified by it seem to be the people who have never tried it,” he says.
It would be good to do this before the “big revision of Prop 2,” he says, as he expects the “anti-reefer madness people (who) are in total control now” will “rewrite what the people have there” in the medical marijuana ballot measure.
“So having said all of that, I’m just saying (the marijuana was) no big deal.”
Since its rollout in the summer of 2017, the medical marijuana ballot initiative, which became Proposition 2, enjoyed majority support among Utahns, reaching as high as 75 percent in a number of polls conducted by the Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Policy.
However, that started to change with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announcing its opposition to Proposition 2 in August and the accompanying compromise legislation that was introduced to the public earlier this month.
The church joined an anti-Proposition 2 coalition that includes the Utah Medical Association, the Sutherland Institute, the Utah Chiefs of Police Association and various other medical, faith, civic and law enforcement groups and individuals.
While church representatives said repeatedly that the church supports the use of medical cannabis under proper regulation and distribution, they argued the framework established under Proposition 2 allowed for possible abuses and posed a threat to the state’s youth.
The crafters of the compromise legislation say their proposal addresses the objections of the church and others. The church itself put its stamp of approval on the proposed bill.
According to the results of a Salt Lake Tribune-Hickley Institute of Politics poll published Oct. 16, Proposition 2 has lost ground with Utahns.
According to the poll, support for the medical marijuana measure has dropped by 15 points since June, bringing support among Utah voters to just over 50 percent.
Among Latter-day Saints, support fell from around 54 percent in June to 28 percent in October.
Pass or fail, Gov. Gary Herbert said he will call a special session of the Legislature following the election so lawmakers can review the proposed compromise legislation and pass it.
Opponents of the compromise bill fear lawmakers either won’t bother to pass the law legalizing medical marijuana if Proposition 2 fails or will amend it so much that it will defeat the original goal of making it easier to get medical marijuana to patients.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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