Perspectives: The people on gun control and medical marijuana

Background derives from photo by Rdlamkin / iStock / Getty Images Plus; foreground stock image; composite, St. George News

OPINION – I’ve long been skeptical of the initiative process as a means of passing laws but a closer look at concealed carry and medical marijuana initiatives by Utahns reveals how the people can sometimes keep the government in check.

That skepticism started back in the late ’90s when the so-called “Safe To Learn – Safe To Worship” coalition was working to institute its gun control solution in search of a problem.

After Utah relaxed its concealed carry laws and became a “shall issue” state in 1995, there were dire predictions of blood in the streets and shootouts over parking spaces. There was also a concerted effort to create greater restrictions on where permit holders could legally carry; specifically, it sought to outlaw legal carry in schools or churches.

The idea was that some locations were so hallowed that a law-abiding permit holder could not be trusted to possess a personal firearm while visiting them. The drive behind this ballot initiative was long on emotion and nearly devoid of rationality.

Still, it was making headway under the siren song of keeping the children safe.

I remember interviewing members of the PTA on my radio show and discussing the issue with signature gatherers standing outside the Washington County Library in St. George. No one could point to any concrete examples of concealed carry permit holders creating the kind of danger to themselves or others that would justify a preemptive blanket prohibition.

By contrast, most Utah legislators at that time were clear on whether concealed carry was causing the predicted problems or not. It wasn’t. Calls to further expand state power over permit holders through the Legislature were simply not warranted.

This is why self-defense opponents sought to take their cause to the court of public opinion where they stood a better chance of stampeding the frightened herd in the direction of more government.

They knew the voting public was likely to vote on emotion rather than principle, and that’s why they wanted the matter taken out of the hands of the legislators.

Fortunately, the initiative failed to garner enough votes and quietly faded into obscurity.

At that time, I felt a great sense of relief because I did not trust enough of my fellow voters to be sufficiently informed on the issue of concealed carry. Sound bites and bumper sticker slogans have too often proven to be a handy substitute for individual study and contemplation.

Now, nearly 20 years later, I find myself on the opposite side of the ballot initiative question. This time the issue is medicinal cannabis, and I’m actively looking forward to the voters being able to change the law in a beneficial way.


Read more: Medical marijuana advocates file 2018 ballot initiative


My rationale for supporting a citizen-sponsored ballot initiative this time versus opposing one in the past is very simple.

If Utah citizens vote in 2018 to decriminalize the use of medicinal cannabis, they are effectively voting to limit the power of the state over verifiably ill patients whose medicinal choices would harm no one. In the case of the “Safe to Learn – Safe to Worship” initiative, they would have been voting to expand the state’s power over permit holders who had harmed no one.

See the difference?

In this case, the situation has been neatly reversed with legislators playing the role of unprincipled enablers of government expansion, and the citizenry has a golden opportunity to check that power.

Just as not everyone chooses to apply for and jump through the hoops for a concealed carry permit, not everyone will be availing themselves of medicinal cannabis. In both cases, a fairly limited number of people will be able to exercise their natural rights without fear of government punishment.

Like the unfounded predictions that gun owners would abuse their freedom to shed blood over every minor disagreement, the fears of opponents of medicinal cannabis are also being exaggerated. Those who have actually read the proposed initiative will clearly see that its goal is to limit state power to prevent the abuse of stricken patients who are currently being treated as criminals.

Read the full text of the proposed initiative: 2018 Initiative – Utah Medical Cannabis Act.

There is a clear emotional component to the stories of patients who must choose between suffering while obeying the law or risking criminal consequences for availing themselves of a remedy that works for them.

Sympathy for their plight is nothing of which we should be ashamed. Decent human beings should possess the ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes.

There’s plenty of time between now and the November 2018 ballot for people to carefully study the issue of medicinal cannabis for themselves. That’s enough time for knee-jerk reactions to subside and rational decision making to take place.

I’m confident that, given the facts, enough voters will recognize it’s OK – and sometimes necessary – to limit the power we’ve delegated to the state. Especially when elected representatives are preemptively substituting the force of the state for individual conscience and judgment.

The initiative process exists to remind elected representatives that their job is to guarantee our natural rights and not to micromanage our lives and personal medical decisions.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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33 Comments

  • Brian July 3, 2017 at 7:50 am

    Here’s the thing about legalizing “medical” marijuana: it’s a joke. It’s almost the same thing as legalizing recreational marijuana. There was massive fraud in Vegas with doctors handing out medical cards like crazy. Sneezed in the last decade? Congratulations, you qualify!

    The great thing about having 50 states is that you have 50 petri dishes in which to do experiments. We’re literally surrounded by states that have legalized marijuana, including for recreational use. For families that have children who are going through medical hell, why don’t you move to another state where they can get the treatment they need?

    We need a lot more time for this to play out. If it is indeed found that legalizing marijuana has no negative effect on crime, no negative effect on unemployment, no negative impact on how long adult kids live in their parents basement, then I’m all for it. I’m in favor of limited government, after all.

    But this is a one-way trip. There is literally zero chance of legalizing marijuana and then making it illegal again, so we shouldn’t rush into it. Let’s give it time so we can find out what happens in Colorado, Nevada, Colorado, etc before we dive in. Like our parents always said, would you jump off a bridge just because your friends do?

    • ladybugavenger July 3, 2017 at 9:32 am

      The only crime that would go down is the possession and distribution of marijuana. You can’t get accurate data on dui’s because thc stays in the system and you dont have to be under the influence to test positive.

      You can get false data like you see in other states of marijuana related incidents because one will test positive whether or not they are under the influence.

      The only crimes that will go down are possession and distribution charges of marijuana, with that tho you have more resources to go after meth, heroin, opioids, child predators, rapists, thieves.

      • comments July 3, 2017 at 1:55 pm

        Agree LB, once again Brian has his head in the sand. And did he just write something to the tune of “if you don’t like then leave!”?

  • The Dude July 3, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I have long believed that medical marijuana is the gateway to recreational​ marijuana. And my belief has been proven right. Some would say that marijuana use is no big deal or a right. But as one who works as a volunteer in addiction recovery and a recovering addict. Making legal and socially acceptable a substance that is emotionally and mentally addictive is dangerous.

    • ladybugavenger July 3, 2017 at 9:24 am

      “Making legal and socially acceptable a substance that is emotionally and mentally addictive is dangerous.”

      Like alcohol? Like cigarettes? Like prescription pain pills? Like caffeine? Lord knows I need my coffee or I’m going back to sleep.

      • Brian July 3, 2017 at 10:17 am

        If alcohol was a new product, just coming on the market, do you think it would be allowed to be released? The FDA would reject it immediately and people would be up in arms if they didn’t.

        I can just see the commercial, “Try Budweiser, it will make you puke and pee on your own furniture, beat your wife and kids, increases your chances of being fired, and may even lead you to kill an entire family in an intersection, all without remembering a thing. Great for parties and holidays! Works wonders for college students!”

        • ladybugavenger July 3, 2017 at 1:01 pm

          I shouldn’t have laughed but I did….that is a commercial I would like to see. I know there are many people that need to put down that bottle……and never pick it up again. People overusing alcohol causes a lot of problems- a lot! I won’t pick up any pot- legal or not legal cuz I know I’m already paranoid (people are mean) and pot would put me over the edge. (I’d never leave my house lol)

          It’s not alcohol or pot that’s the problem- people are the problem.

          I knew a person 20 years ago that said she doesn’t use meth because she steals when she’s on it…..as she was making false workers comp claims for false people at her sisters company…..what?????? Meth or not- She was just a thief and had no clue that she was, just because she wasn’t stealing from someone’s storage unit. My point- people are jacked up!!!! Y’all need Jesus! I know you know Jesus Brian, it was for everyone else that doesn’t. Get some morals people!

        • ladybugavenger July 3, 2017 at 2:33 pm

          As soon I get home I’m making a margarita or maybe I’ll have a bud light or a reds strawberry ale…..

          Alcohol is not stupid, pot is not stupid, guns are not stupid: people are stupid 😉

          I use to smoke pot when I was younger, it did not make me lazy, in fact, it gave me energy and made house cleaning tolerable. However, I’m older now and haven’t smoked pot in a decade or more and I don’t need it. I don’t have pain, I don’t have anxiety, I don’t have mental issues ( lol ok that’s debatable) but there are people that pot is a medicine for them. That pot decreases their anxieties and I would rather them smoke pot than take a pill made in a lab ( like lab rats these people that take pills become, and they commit suicide on anti depressants- it’s bad) I’m against abortion and gay marriage but they are legal and what’s their response? You don’t have to be gay and get married and you don’t have to have an abortion welll folks, you don’t have to smoke pot either- legalize it!

    • Travis July 3, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Then why is alcohol legal in the United States? Marijuana is MUCH safer than alcohol. I know, my brother is an alcoholic and is much better with pot.

  • high5 July 3, 2017 at 11:39 am

    You folks need to get out more🙄 #geteducated

  • Brian July 3, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Bryan, while I agree in more liberty and less government, the problem is we’re rapidly approaching a full on nanny state on entitlements like welfare, healthcare, housing, free phones, etc.

    You can’t have a tyrannical nanny state on the one hand (taxing and squeezing the top half to give handouts to the bottom half) at the same time that you have liberty and avant-garde on the other hand. Either the state has to leave us alone and we’re free to live our lives how we want, including dealing with our own consequences for things like marijuana and obesity, OR the state provides everything for us and changes our diapers AND because of that gets to tell us how to live. I choose the former, but I refuse to fight for the rights without first fighting for the responsibilities. No cake until after you’ve eaten your vegetables.

    This is no different than on immigration. Enough broken promises and outright lies. Secure the border and end the fraud FIRST, and THEN we’ll reform the system to make it more fair and efficient and deal with the illegal immigrants already living here and those brought here as children. Trump should freeze ALL immigration until this is resolved, not just from a handful of countries that stop illegal immigration. Pause EVERYTHING until the problem is fixed. He absolutely has the legal, Constitutional right to do so. There could be no accusations of prejudice or favoritism, because it would be a blanket ban.

  • Paul July 3, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    LadyBugAvenger is spot on. Keep commenting, your comments are great. Brian (the commenter) is brainwashed, he says he’s a recovering addict, I HIGHly doubt it, he says that, is if its going to make his idiotic responses carry more weight. Mari-J is a plant, for the love of the game, stop policing plants. Why is this still a thing? Its because of the indoctrinated many who seem to surround me. And big pharma and lobbyists. Its nice to see that Bryan Hyde is growing up, maturity is a beautiful thing, keep growing my friend. Its nice to see the transformation. The skewed right believes the left purports more government, this is not true, take one example: national defense. Russia and China combined spent approx. 250Billion last year, China – 200B and Russia – 50B+. U.S. = 600+ Billion. YES! Its not a typo! The right = more government. Period. The left is messed up too, but don’t tout or imply that the left wants more government, yes, they want more programs, but they overall they want less government, just more checks and balances. Moderation my friends. Moderates. Independent thinkers. 2 party system is so messed up and all the degrees of glory within each one are ridiculous. When it comes to social choices, abortion/drugs – remember, we fought like hell to give people their agency, let’s not punish them for making poor choices, a greater judge will render those judgements at the appropriate time. Where my nose begins, your rights end. And while I’m at it….ahh never mind, another time…

    • Brian July 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Correction: The Dude claims to be a recovering addict (no reason to doubt him). Brian (the commenter) has never used drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.

      • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:08 pm

        hahah, Brian’s drug of choice is religion. “The one true religion”. lol 😉

      • ladybugavenger July 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

        Have you used prescription pain pills? A Loratab? Percaset? Okycodone? Just curious.

        After drilling on me for an hour and a half, the dentist here gave me a prescription for pain pills, I didn’t fill it. Ibuprofen worked fine. Had he given it to me when I first went in with pain, I would have taken it- I begged but they said no and gave me ibuprofen 800 and antibiotics (that worked quickly)

        As you stand on your “I’ve never used drugs” I just wonder if you ever were prescribed and taken a pain pill.

    • The Dude July 3, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      I don’t know how to prove my recovery to you Paul but it’s real and took a lot of humility to get. But my fear is another substance that becomes socially acceptable yet is addictive to some.
      I believe like Brian. If we want freedom of our actions, we must accept the responsibility for them. Our society is becoming more government supported yet wants less government control. So a healthy, educated, productive individual must pay for the care of another. That made bad choices, that didn’t get an degree, lived an unhealty lifestyle, and can’t or won’t be a productive citizen. That’s the direction America is and has been going. And those that see it as wrong are the ones that voted for the Tea Party before and Donald Trump now. This division gets larger by legalized marijuana.
      On the subject of perscription/opioid abuse. Access to marijuana is not the fix. This problem I believe can be traced to the ACA/Obama care. Free and low cost Healthcare to individuals​ that had an addictive personality created a whole new group​ of addicts. A low income individual with a minor drinking problem got a perscription for an opioid. They are now a full blown addict because of easy access to a highly addictive drug. Same can be said for today’s marijuana. It’s not just some weed. It’s a ultra high THC concoction unlike anything in the past and totally untested by mental health experts. And the effects of it on our society will not be liberating but debilitating.

      • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:16 pm

        ” A low income individual with a minor drinking problem got a perscription for an opioid. They are now a full blown addict because of easy access to a highly addictive drug.”

        And you’re claiming this is because of obamacare? If that’s the case you’re a loon. And no one wants to pay for anyone else’s medical. Should we just cut all these old people that depend on medicare and let them die of whatever b/c of no care? The thing that I’ve noticed bonds you r-wing nutters is your inability to think outside of your own little selfish world and of the common good. If you ever in this life utilize a gov’t program for healthcare you are a hypocrite, buddy. cheers 😉

        • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:17 pm

          And with a name like ‘the dude’ I’d think you’d be the biggest doper of all. Didn’t ‘the dude’ in that movie spend a lot of time smoking weed?

  • comments July 3, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    I used to buy into the “libruls'” idea of a gun control solution, probably similarly to how user “commonsense” just swallows whole every piece of right-wing drivel that he hears and then regurgitates it out constantly without even thinking. Mostly what changed my mind on gun control is seeing what the gov’t is capable of doing to unarmed citizens, and unarmed citizenry are just helpless sheep to the slaughter when gov’t has all the cards to play (guns). However I think the starting age of permit holders should have been left alone at 21.

    These mormons that run this state also need to keep their nose out of everyone’s business. If you can tote around a glock in your pants at 18, you’d ought to be able to smoke some weed without landing in jail. The mormon love affair with oxycodone needs to end. Just because some doc prescribes it doesn’t make it better or safer than a plant. And the same mormons denying people health coverage because of their supposed “conservative principles” need to go pound sand. Very ‘unmormonly’ of them, the way they govern this state.

  • youcandoit July 3, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Whatever happened to freedom of choice I’m sick and tired of people saying you should use marijuana it maybe a plant so oxys start out from a plant and marijuana are hybrids from a lab. There’s physical addiction and psychological. I watched a documentary about it. I like my freedom of choice just quit trying to shove it down me you do you

    • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      A lot of synthetic opiods never started out as plants. I’d like to hear the mormon solution for utah’s opiod problem. I haven’t heard one yet. Seems their solution as now is to just pretend utah has no opioid problem, no?

      Also:
      ” I like my freedom of choice just quit trying to shove it down me you do you”

      huh?

      • ladybugavenger July 4, 2017 at 5:06 pm

        you do you boo…

        You know Bob, people don’t like to be told how to live and especially they don’t want to hear about God and morals so they scream “I want freedom” “I want choice” “Don’t judge me” “You do you”

  • Proud Rebel July 3, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I cannot believe that we will see legalization of pot, either here in Utah, or on the federal level. At least, not in my lifetime.
    There is way too much money to be made, by leaving it against the law. You have all the dopers that are now selling it on the black market, and on up the criminal line, that want it to stay just as it is. Making it legal, will cut down on their customer base, and no business wants that. And that is just what the illegal drug operations are. A business. Actually, a whole lot of businesses.
    And then on the other side, you have all of the folks who make and enforce laws. There have been many law enforcement careers that were highly enhanced by the war on drugs. You have LE agencies that have all kinds of neat stuff they wouldn’t have, if it wasn’t for the asset forfeiture laws.
    And while I hate to say it, you also have both law makers and law enforcers that make a good chunk of change to keep the laws as they are, and look the other way.
    But then you have still another side. The uneducated and inexperienced that can have someone else make up their minds for them, and tell them what to think and do.
    And then, yet another side. The goody two shoes types who believe that this world would be such a wonderful place if only: [add whatever they are up in arms up about today, whether it is dope, or alcohol, or tobacco, or gambling, or pornography, in it’s many forms, or anything else that catches their attention.]

    • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Good point. There’s lot of little interests that would prefer no legalization, ever. You left out the pharma industries. If a cheap, easily available, plant-based painkiller came into mass use it could seriously cut their bottom line. In that way I suppose they’re a lot like the illicit drug traders in not wanting to see it legalized.

      • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:29 pm

        but for utah, it’s mostly just the LDS’ers, and as usual it’s more about image than substance. I suppose oxies still have that nice clean image of being legal and doctor prescribed, which is ok with mormons.

  • Kyle L. July 3, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Brian, I am a little confused by your reasoning. You say that you do not want to have more government over site but you are for the legalization of medicinal cannabis. In saying that the state will legalize cannabis you are in fact saying that you are giving them the power to both govern the production and distribution of the cannabis. Also there is one more little perk for the state’s never ending power, they get to tax it. If we are going to say that it is legal then it needs to be legal. We already have to much government. We do not need to hire more state employees to make sure that everyone is getting the good stuff. LOL

  • commonsense July 3, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    As a physician, I will never use marijuana. Studies show a profound dumbing down of brain function, initiative and judgement. Why do you think people smoke it? Like alcohol and opioids, it allows escape from reality. Medically, it cures nothing. Sucking smoke into healthy lungs is just stupid.

    Colorado is already having second thoughts about recreational weed. State controlled distribution and taxes still make illegal marijuana cheaper.

    Ask yourself this: if I am about to have brain surgery, do I want my neurosurgeon to smoke a joint?
    Me neither. The same liberals want less govt regulation over marijuana but more regulations over business, health care, guns, banks and every other aspect of our lives. You either want more govt regulations or less.

    • ladybugavenger July 4, 2017 at 8:30 am

      I don’t want my brain surgeon on opioids or alcohol either.

      • ladybugavenger July 4, 2017 at 10:30 am

        I also don’t want my brain surgeon on antidepressants and I definitely don’t want him operating on me if he had a fight with his wife that morning 😉 (he might take it out on me and be all oops) but I will never know if my brain surgeon smoked pot, has a hangover, on antidepressants, had a fight with his wife, is going through a divorce etc….I would just pray and put it in God’s hands

    • comments July 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      A physician? And what kind of physician would that be? Not a medical one I hope. If you’re a medical doctor then I’m mickey mouse….

    • LocalTourist July 17, 2017 at 8:01 am

      I’m a medical professional. Your comment is full of ridiculous comments. Replace “weed” with “booze” in your comments and you’ll see what I mean, Would I want a neurosurgeon using booze before surgery? Of course not. It’s a foolish supposition you bring up, like Chicken Little and the sky falling. The narcotics prescribed 41 times a day in Utah also cure nothing, but you’re not opposed to their use under a doctor’s direction. What’s up with that?
      As far as escaping reality, if you ARE a doctor, then you realize the patients you prescribe narcotics for pain relief are doing just that– escaping the perception and reality of the pain they suffer from. There is no difference between opioids and cannabis, except an overdose of cannabis wont kill you (and the addictive symptoms of weed are more like caffeine than heroin).

      The ballot initiative about about pain relief and patient care, not recreational use. If you’re really an MD, you definitely need more education on this topic, because the ballot initiative does NOT allow smoking cannabis.

      Doctors are supposed to be continuing their education throughout their career. It’s obvious you’re behind on yours.
      Catch up.

  • Craig July 4, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Great line: “gun control solution in search of a problem.”

  • commonsense July 4, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    more people have been killed intentionally by motor vehicles than by guns this year and way more accidentally…ban motor vehicles!!💀

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