Except for its northern border—where it shares territorial boundaries with perennially conservative, red voting states like Montana and Idaho—Utah is the only western US state that still has no medical or recreational cannabis law on the books. That may change in November, when citizens of The Beehive State vote on Proposition 2, which would legalize marijuana for individuals with qualifying medical conditions.
Interestingly, if passed into law, the legislation would provide for the use of cannabis as noted, but it would still prohibit smoking the plant to receive therapeutic benefit. Though smoking marijuana would still be illegal under any circumstances, the state recently commissioned a study by the offices of Utah Science Technology and Research to determine whether cannabis affects chronic pain. Test subjects will be given cannabis-infused chocolate pudding to test the plant's painkilling properties.
Despite these positive signs, leaders of the state's predominant Mormon culture have come out against the proposal, with Governor Gary Herbert arguing that the proposal has major policy flaws and leaders with the LDS Church writing that medical marijuana use is a “matter of great controversy.” Ironically, a poll taken one year ago in July 2017 by The Salt Lake Tribune found that 78 percent of voters support the use of regulated medical cannabis in Utah.
As the cannabis business in New Mexico moves toward full legitimacy—and an ever-bigger piece of the state's economic pie—individuals who were once loath to give marijuana the credit it deserves are going on record as big supporters and even investors in the growing industry.
This week, the state’s daily newspaper of record turned up the volume on knowledge of marijuana's medical benefits, as well as the one-time weed’s growing monetary allure with an interview featuring former New Mexico Human Services Secretary Duke Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who was also an executive at one of the state's largest health care providers, Lovelace Medical, is now CEO at Ultra Health, a thriving marijuana production and distribution concern with facilities in New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.
Rodriguez does his utmost to frame cannabis use in normative terms. In a candid interview, the successful CEO said that he uses medical cannabis “without reservation” and sees a quickly manifesting future for The Land of Enchantment wherein cannabis will be the number two industry—just behind traditional state breadwinners oil and gas—in a place where human health concerns come first.