Support for medical cannabis reaches super-majority levels among voters across the nation, so it is hardly surprising when a state legalizes medicinal use. However, that strong support in the polls was recently put to the test in a low-turnout primary election in deep-red Oklahoma, one of the most conservative states in the union. Voters in the Sooner state passing a medicinal measure by a 10 point margin demonstrated the real-world political power of the movement. Will Utah, an extremely religious, culturally conservative state, follow Oklahoma’s example this November?
As the Press Herald reports, the prospects of Utah allowing patients to utilize cannabis looks pretty good, but a close election is expected:
Polling has shown relatively strong support for the initiative, although it’s weakened in recent months. Public opinion could degrade further if opponents can magnify their criticism before November.
David Magleby, a political science professor at Brigham Young University, gave the measure 50-50 odds of passing.
“This is a Republican state, a conservative state and a moderate Republican governor and a very conservative Republican legislature are opposed to it,” he said. “And then there’s the LDS church that’s involved. For some people I think that position is going to be definitive.”
While BYU’s Magleby has much more experience with the electorate in Utah than I do, I’m gonna put the odds better than 50% based upon our movement’s success at the ballot box in states like Arkansas and Oklahoma. While the LDS church is certainly influential politically, it is likely influential culturally and socially, very likely decreasing the number of people willing to be publicly open about supporting medical use, or even answering truthfully in polls.
I will be disappointed if Utah, along with my birth state of Missouri (more on that campaign effort in future blogs) don’t join the ranks of states with effective medical cannabis programs. But we certainly can’t take anything for granted. If you would like to help the plight of patients in Utah and help continue our movement’s momentum, donate to the Utah Patients Coalition.
Stay up to date with the latest political and legal developments impacting the cannabis community at the International Cannabis Business Conference. Next up: Portland, Oregon, on September 27th-28th. Get your tickets by September 12th to save $200 and ensure you get a seat before the event sells out.