Utah should follow Colorado

RoryPenman4_2 Colby Patterson
Rory Penman

Rory Penman

In the final days of this legislative session, the Utah legislature voted to legalize hemp oil, and Gov. Gary Herbert, for once, signed a progressive bill that will help people across the state. To be clear, this bill does not mean marijuana is now legal. Rather, the oil which is an extract from the cannabis plant, and the chemical elements of it are specified within the bill. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, “The oil would have to be certified to contain at least 15 percent cannabidiol (CBD), the chemical believed to have anti-seizure properties, and less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical that gives marijuana users a high.” Without THC, this oil cannot be used to get high, and its purpose is solely medicinal. This oil is used to treat severe cases of epilepsy in which prescribed pharmaceuticals do not help and the person with epilepsy has an extremely shortened lifespan. Hemp oil will help prevent seizures and increase the longevity of the person using it. Many hope this bill may eventually lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Utah.

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has led to a large increase in tax revenue. According to The Denver Westword, within the first month of legalized marijuana, “The retail pot sales launch resulted in a gusher of cash, with more than $3.5 million in tax revenues collected statewide.” And that amount is expected to increase throughout the coming year. Add on to that a spike in Colorado tourism, as many are traveling to Denver and other Colorado cities to ski, tour pot shops and growing facilities and smoke.

An increase in tax revenue would be beneficial in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune lists Utah as the last state, nationally, for spending in education per pupil. While the Tribune states that the amount of money needed per year to pull Utah out of last place is $365 million, an extra $40 million in marijuana tax revenue would not hurt.

Marijuana would serve not only to benefit those seeking its healing properties for anxiety, epilepsy, muscular sclerosis or migraines, but it would also make those who choose to use the drug for recreational purposes happy. It would greatly increase money coming into the state, and the amount of revenue that could be spent on education, sustainability initiatives and health care, among other necessary services that lack funding and resources. With scientific studies being done to show the lack of negative effects upon the body and in society from marijuana, what is stopping Utah from legalizing a drug that is healing, relaxing and profitable?

letters@chronicle.utah.edu