A doubtlessly explosive report detailing the distribution of pharmaceutical opiates reveals a disturbing connection between Utah’s anti-medical cannabis motion and the pharmaceutical trade. Particularly, one of many state’s main anti-legalization policymakers can be one of many state’s greatest vendor of opiates.

The revelation has sparked outrage amongst medical marijuana sufferers and advocates, and has intensified ongoing tensions surrounding Utah’s controversial medical marijuana legal guidelines.

New Stats About Opiates Made Public

Just lately, the Washington Publish launched a trove of federal information associated to the distribution of pharmaceutical opiates throughout the nation. Particularly, the searchable database tracks who’s promoting opiates and the way a lot they’re promoting.

The stats unveil plenty of problematic developments. For starters, the database exhibits that the nation’s pharmaceutical corporations have bought 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone tablets between 2006 and 2012. Throughout that very same time interval, roughly 100,000 folks have died from problems associated to opiates and opiate dependancy.

Moreover, the publication of the database has spurred in-depth searches and analyses, considered one of which discovered that Utah Senate Majority Chief—and prime anti- cannabis lawmaker—Evan Vickers is without doubt one of the state’s greatest sellers of opiates.

Consequently, legalization advocates are calling foul. And a few of Utah’s prime activists are demanding that Vickers recuse himself from all laws associated to marijuana.

“Once we noticed the outrageous numbers of opiates that Vickers is allotting, it was alarming to all of us,” Christine Stenquist, Founder and Government Director of Collectively for Accountable Use and Hashish Schooling (TRUCE), instructed Excessive Occasions. “Much more alarming is that this man is attempting to ban cannabis from coming into the state. And we’ve seen in states the place there’s cannabis, that there’s a decline in prescribed drugs, particularly opiates.”

Vickers: Main Opiate Vendor and Anti-Hashish Lawmaker

In accordance with researcher and author Angela Bacca, Vickers, who owns a series of pharmacies in southern Utah, distributes 34 % of all opiates in Utah’s rural Iron County. Vickers’ two Cedar Metropolis pharmacies promote much more opiates than huge nationwide chains like Wal-Mart.

For a lot of medical marijuana advocates in Utah, the sheer variety of opiates bought by Vickers is alarming sufficient. However to make issues even worse, it seems that Vickers has been a number one voice within the struggle in opposition to medical marijuana in Utah.

Particularly, he was the sponsor of the controversial H.B. 3001. This medical marijuana invoice was rammed via in a particular legislative session in December 2018, simply two days after a voter-approved initiative went into impact.

In 2018, a medical marijuana invoice known as Proposition 2 certified for the poll. However lengthy earlier than voters had an opportunity to vote, highly effective forces in Utah started working in opposition to Proposition 2.

Particularly, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also called the Mormon Church or the LDS Church. For starters, the church formally opposed the initiative. Additional, church leaders despatched a letter to members urging them to vote no. On condition that roughly 62 % of Utahns—together with the massive majority of lawmakers—are Mormon, the LDS Church has vital political sway.

Alongside publicly talking out in opposition to Proposition 2, Mormon Church representatives started assembly with lawmakers to draft a “compromise invoice,” which in the end grew to become H.B. 3001. And Vickers was the invoice’s ground sponsor.

“They’ve put up roadblocks, excuses, and weak-kneed laws,” Stenquist instructed Excessive Occasions. “Policymakers have made very complicated coverage and it’s simply not the place we want it to be. And I consider it’s particular pursuits that drive our insurance policies. What I’m involved about is that particular pursuits are making revenue on the expense of our communities.”

Utah’s Medical Marijuana Controversy: The Latest Chapter

H.B. 3001 has drawn vital backlash from medical marijuana sufferers and activists. For starters, TRUCE and different medical marijuana advocates have filed a lawsuit in opposition to the state.

Amongst different issues, the swimsuit claims that the Mormon Church exerted illegal affect over the lawmaking course of, culminating within the fast substitute of the voter-approved Proposition 2.

Moreover, many advocates say that H.B. 3001 is way too restrictive. Particularly, in line with Stenquist, it limits the variety of dispensaries and the variety of sufferers to whom a health care provider can suggest medical marijuana.

“Vickers is behind this restrictiveness for sufferers,” Stenquist instructed Excessive Occasions. “That is all motivated as a result of Vickers is defending his backside line. It is a clear battle of curiosity. Particular curiosity legislators like Vickers are writing insurance policies that higher their specific trade and put cash in their very own pockets. That has to cease.”

She added: “We have to decrease our dependency on pharmaceutical medication and cannabis is without doubt one of the instruments that may try this. However Vickers doesn’t wish to hurt his backside line.”

In mild of the information about Vickers’ opiate actions, Stenquist is looking on him to recuse himself from all marijuana-related laws. It’s unclear what, if any, authorized motion TRUCE or different teams might pursue. However for now, the swimsuit filed earlier this yr stays ongoing.