In an interview Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said that he had been tempted to use medical marijuana while undergoing treatment for cancer. He cited many of the reasons other medical marijuana patients do for wanting to use this treatment, including intense pain and being unable to keep anti-nausea medication down long enough for it to work. Unfortunately, medical marijuana is not legal in Utah, so Shurtleff was unwilling to use it, even when offered it by a friend.
This experience apparently taught Shurtleff why people would want to use this medicine. He even said that with the proper controls he would support a medical marijuana program in Utah, so that others in his situation wouldn’t have to choose between obeying the law and relieving their suffering. Hopefully, this will be a small step toward enacting such a bill.
Under current state law, Utah residents can be jailed for six months and fined $1,000 for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Sale of any amount nets a sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.
While Shurtleff is to be commended for his change of heart, it is unfortunate that he had to go through such a horrible experience to finally see the necessity for medical marijuana access and patient protections. Our leaders shouldn’t have to feel the pain that patients feel to treat them with compassion.