Top rated Anti-Cannabis Lawmaker is Also A single of the State’s Biggest Opiate Sellers

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A potentially explosive report detailing the distribution of pharmaceutical opiates reveals a disturbing connection in between Utah’s anti-healthcare cannabis movement and the pharmaceutical market. Especially, a single of the state’s major anti-legalization policymakers is also a single of the state’s largest seller of opiates.

The revelation has sparked outrage amongst healthcare marijuana individuals and advocates, and has intensified ongoing tensions surrounding Utah’s controversial healthcare marijuana laws.

New Stats About Opiates Created Public

Lately, the Washington Post released a trove of federal information connected to the distribution of pharmaceutical opiates across the nation. Especially, the searchable database tracks who is promoting opiates and how substantially they’re promoting.

The stats unveil a quantity of problematic trends. For starters, the database shows that the country’s pharmaceutical businesses have sold 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone tablets in between 2006 and 2012. Through that very same time period, roughly 100,000 people today have died from complications connected to opiates and opiate addiction.

On top of that, the publication of the database has spurred in-depth searches and analyses, a single of which discovered that Utah Senate Majority Leader—and best anti-cannabis lawmaker—Evan Vickers is a single of the state’s largest sellers of opiates.

As a outcome, legalization advocates are calling foul. And some of Utah’s best activists are demanding that Vickers recuse himself from all legislation connected to marijuana.

“When we saw the outrageous numbers of opiates that Vickers is dispensing, it was alarming to all of us,” Christine Stenquist, Founder and Executive Director of Collectively for Accountable Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), told Higher Occasions. “Even far more alarming is that this man is attempting to prohibit cannabis from coming into the state. And we’ve noticed in states exactly where there is cannabis, that there’s a decline in pharmaceuticals, particularly opiates.”

Vickers: Top Opiate Seller and Anti-Cannabis Lawmaker

According to researcher and writer Angela Bacca, Vickers, who owns a chain of pharmacies in southern Utah, distributes 34 % of all opiates in Utah’s rural Iron County. Vickers’ two Cedar City pharmacies sell even far more opiates than enormous national chains like Wal-Mart.

For quite a few healthcare marijuana advocates in Utah, the sheer quantity of opiates sold by Vickers is alarming sufficient. But to make issues even worse, it turns out that Vickers has been a major voice in the fight against healthcare marijuana in Utah.

Especially, he was the sponsor of the controversial H.B. 3001. This healthcare marijuana bill was rammed by means of in a unique legislative session in December 2018, just two days just after a voter-authorized initiative went into impact.

In 2018, a healthcare marijuana bill known as Proposition two certified for the ballot. But extended ahead of voters had a opportunity to vote, strong forces in Utah started functioning against Proposition two.

Especially, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also identified as the Mormon Church or the LDS Church. For starters, the church formally opposed the initiative. Additional, church leaders sent a letter to members urging them to vote no. Offered that roughly 62 % of Utahns—including the substantial majority of lawmakers—are Mormon, the LDS Church has substantial political sway.

Alongside publicly speaking out against Proposition two, Mormon Church representatives started meeting with lawmakers to draft a “compromise bill,” which eventually became H.B. 3001. And Vickers was the bill’s floor sponsor.

“They’ve place up roadblocks, excuses, and weak-kneed legislation,” Stenquist told Higher Occasions. “Policymakers have created pretty confusing policy and it is just not exactly where we require it to be. And I think it is unique interests that drive our policies. What I’m concerned about is that unique interests are producing profit at the expense of our communities.”

Utah’s Healthcare Marijuana Controversy: The Newest Chapter

H.B. 3001 has drawn substantial backlash from healthcare marijuana individuals and activists. For starters, TRUCE and other healthcare marijuana advocates have filed a lawsuit against the state.

Amongst other issues, the suit claims that the Mormon Church exerted unlawful influence more than the lawmaking procedure, culminating in the speedy replacement of the voter-authorized Proposition two.

On top of that, quite a few advocates say that H.B. 3001 is far also restrictive. In specific, according to Stenquist, it limits the quantity of dispensaries and the quantity of individuals to whom a physician can suggest healthcare marijuana.

“Vickers is behind this restrictiveness for individuals,” Stenquist told Higher Occasions. “This is all motivated due to the fact Vickers is guarding his bottom line. This is a clear conflict of interest. Specific interest legislators like Vickers are writing policies that improved their specific market and place revenue in their personal pockets. That has to cease.”

She added: “We require to reduce our dependency on pharmaceutical drugs and cannabis is a single of the tools that can do that. But Vickers does not want to harm his bottom line.”

In light of the news about Vickers’ opiate activities, Stenquist is calling on him to recuse himself from all marijuana-connected legislation. It is unclear what, if any, legal action TRUCE or other groups may well pursue. But for now, the suit filed earlier this year remains ongoing.



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