From: Turner C. Bitton
To: Turner C. Bitton,
Subject: Senate Bill 89 - The right process, at the right time, for Utah
Date: Thu Mar 10 18:00:44 MST 2016

Hello Representative, 

In the past several weeks, after spending a significant amount of time working with Senator Vickers, Representative Daw, and other legislators we are confident that Senate Bill 89 is the right process, at the right time for Utah. 

Representative Daw and Senator Vickers have been in the unenviable position of being both the subject of cannabis advocates wrath and tasked with working to mitigate the concerns of a wide variety of organizations. They have spent hours working with law enforcement, the medical community, patients, and other stakeholders to craft a piece of legislation that attempts to balance the various interests, concerns, and needs of Utahns. The process that created this legislation is the right process, it left no one behind and no one out.

As all of you know, it is not possible to eliminate every concern for every party. I understand that there is sentiment from some supporters of medical cannabis that this legislation does not go far enough, that it “won’t help anyone.”

Nothing could be further from the truthIn fact:

In our estimation, given the changes made in the most recent version of the legislation 35,000 to 50,000 Utahns with a wide variety of conditions will be eligible to participate in this program. It also establishes a rational, controlled process for including new conditions.

It empowers physicians to make medical decisions in the best interests of patients. As one physician put it “if I as a primary care physician think that you, the patient needs cannabis for a condition not listed in the legislation - I can refer you to a specialist for a consultation. If the specialist agrees that cannabis is an appropriate treatment for your I can recommend cannabis for your condition.”

It balances the need for law enforcement to protect our communities with the desire to treat patients as patients, not criminals. In fact, the legal protections established by this bill protect patients from legal issues if they are acting in accordance with the spirit of this legislation. The protections included in this legislation will mitigate the worst impacts currently experienced by patients who are illegally using cannabis.

It provides for a cash-based system if creating a state approved electronic payment-processing system is found to be unworkable. This allows the program to operate until federal law catches up with the progress that Utah is making on this issue.

Lastly, we recognize that there will undoubtedly be issues with this legislation as there are with any piece of legislation. We acknowledge that there is work ahead to do on this issue but we have an opportunity, right now, to take a monumental step forward to help Utahns from across the state.

We ask you to support Senate Bill 89’s sixth substitute. Senate Bill 89 is the right process, at the right time, for Utah.

Thank you for all of your hard work on this issue.

Best regards, 
Turner C. Bitton
(801) 564-3860
President - Drug Policy Project of Utah