Politician with POT-ential for Reform: Utah Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck

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Utah has more support than one might suspect for cannabis reform. This article will detail what Utah Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D), District 24 (Minority Assistant Whip), thought about strictly medical marijuana in 2010 (click this link for the original article, published by this writer on 1/27/2010).

When originally interviewed on the topic, years before it was a hot issue, Representative Chavez-Houck stated: “I appreciate your concern and interest in the issue pertaining to the legalization of marijuana. I concur with you that the current legislation we have in place regarding marijuana has been highly ineffective and is costing our taxpayers money.”

When asked about the challenges faced by those who work for cannabis and marijuana law reform, her answer was spot-on and insightful.

One of the largest problems with any marijuana legislation is the inability to scientifically show when the drug was used and how much was used. The inability to provide exact measurements makes it nearly impossible to enact any sort of Driving Under the Influence restrictions…The only solution to this problem is to impose a blanket ‘No Tolerance’ policy, which in the past have been proved to be ineffective and often harmful to due process. These sort of restrictions would be unfair to marijuana users considering the current laws in place surrounding alcohol. I do support any research and investigation into this area and would very much so like to see progress made.

She went on to make it clear that her concerns were not outweighed by the potential benefits of legal reform.

In addition to those concerns, I also support the use of medical marijuana and definitely can see the benefits associated with its uses. Cancer patients lives are improved drastically by its use, and improving the quality of life for the sick is one of the chief responsibilities for the medical profession…If the legalization of marijuana helps to further this goal, then I will support it in medical contexts. However, once again issues arise with granting access to a life-improving drug to only certain groups of people, and the medical profession would be charged with making the decision of whom is eligible. An almost insurmountable and expensive task.

Keep in mind that this interview occurred in 2010, well before popular opinion was overwhelmingly supporting the legalization of medical marijuana programs in the United States. Her quotes have proved insightful, as her state has recently passed a medical marijuana law.

As you can see this issue is extremely complex, and we as legislators are tasked with attempting to represent the people with their best interests in mind. I do believe that in this instance the greater good would be served (by legalizing medical marijuana), but until there are more effective methods and clear cut lines on the issue we will be bogged down in procedure and semantics indefinitely.

In their continuing efforts to further the movement for whole plant reform, cannabis advocates from members of Utah CARE – Cannabis Awareness, Reform and Education, the Utah Cannabis Coalition and Utah Mommies for Cannabis are thrilled to fully endorse and support Representative Chavez-Houck and will work in earnest with Representative Chavez-Houck and any other Utah politician who is publicly supportive of cannabis reform in Utah.

Representative Chavez-Houck was contacted earlier this month and had this to say about cannabis reform, almost 5 years later:

Yes, I am still in support of providing patients and healthcare providers the option of using and prescribing medical marijuana. The challenge always lies in oversight and preserving the integrity of the product and its use, as well as federal prohibition against the use of cannabis. I know that the idea of dispensing this through the DABC has been discussed recently and I’m willing to learn more about this option, but have some concerns because DABC (Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) is not in the business of vetting prescriptive use of controlled substances. It obviously requires more study and we can look to the successes and challenges that other states have encountered as we evaluate how use of medicinal marijuana might be implemented in Utah.

Representative Chavez-Houck is consistent in her logical thinking about the benefits of cannabis, and each cannabis advocate, especially those who live in her District 24 (click this link for the interactive map), are highly encouraged to offer full support to the campaign to re-elect Rebecca via this link. Rebecca is a Standing Member of the House Ethics Committee, Co-Chair of the Health and Human Services and Government Operations Committee. Click this link to view all of her Sponsored/Co-sponsored Legislation.

We are extremely fortunate to have such a thoughtful, progressive, intelligent woman in the Utah Legislature and look forward to working for her re-election.


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Roth under (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr