Utah medical cannabis legalization has taken a critical step forward. After earning the approval of state election officials last week, volunteers with the Utah Patients Coalition started gathering signatures to get medical cannabis on Utah’s ballot in 2018.
According to FOX13, advocates will have to gather 113,000 signatures from 26 of Utah’s 29 senate districts, meaning advocates need signatures from approximately 10% of each county’s population.
UPC launched its signature-drive this past weekend at Willie Nelson’s concert at the USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City, collecting more than 1,000 signatures.
“We’re trying to get this done before January 10 or so, before the legislative session meets,” said DJ Schanz, director of the Utah Patients Coalition. “We will be having numerous public events to get this done.”
UPC plans to harness public events to gain both support and signatures for Utah medical cannabis legalization.
On Aug. 17, with the help of volunteers, UPC headed to the “Food Truck Thursday” event at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City. Some of UPC’s volunteers are those that would potentially benefit from medical cannabis.
“I did the illegal thing. I went to Colorado and got what I needed,” said Scott Kingsbury, who suffers from arthritis. “Personally, I’m off of five of six prescription medicines and, personally, I think it’s a matter of freedom. It’s a matter of choosing what I want to put in my body.”
Schanz said that UPC has had little trouble garnering support and adding volunteers, but thinks that the group will eventually hire workers to travel door-to-door to expand its signature-gathering efforts.
FOX13 spoke to lawmakers in Utah who contend that they are developing medical cannabis legislation, but advocates believe a voter-approved measure will be more forceful.
“We’re excited to take this to all of Utah — rural, Salt Lake City, wherever — we’ve seen strong support,” Schanz said.
As the UPC prepares to collect more signatures, it will post information to its website about signature-gathering events.