- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah senator pushing to legalize medical marijuana has brought in former University of Utah head football Coach Ron McBride to speak in support of the proposal.

McBride said his grandson has autism and would benefit greatly from medical marijuana. He said this proposal is needed in Utah.

“It’s just stupidity if you don’t pass this bill,” McBride said.

The plan by Republican Sen. Mark Madsen of Eagle Mountain would allow those with chronic conditions to consume edible pot products.

It will come up for a vote on Friday, but it could face a steep challenge given that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes the plan. Most Utah lawmakers are members of the church.

Utah should join more than 20 other states that have passed medical marijuana programs and give its citizens the freedom to alleviate their pain, Madsen said. He introduced a similar proposal last year that ultimately died.

A dueling proposal is also expected to come up for a vote on Friday. It would not allow THC consumption and would restrict patients’ applicable ailments. The Mormon Church has not objected to the competing bill.

A group called Truce, pushing for the legal use of marijuana for certain chronic conditions, has recently introduced a ballot initiative to try to legalize it.

Supporters will have until April 15 to file their initiative, get a legal review of the measure, hold seven town hall meetings around the state and then begin gathering nearly 102,000 signatures in order to put the initiative on November’s ballot.

Madsen said he would rather medical marijuana be legalized through the legislative process, but he would support such an initiative should his proposal fail.

“As a plan B, it’s a great idea,” he said.

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