Leaf Nation Logo
Photo by Kat Jorgensen

Embracing Healing: Utah’s Medical Cannabis Patients

Utah's medical Cannabis patients come from diverse backgrounds, united by their pursuit of a better quality of life.

As we conclude Salt Baked City’s journey and embark on a new chapter with Utah Leaf, we take a moment to reflect on the remarkable stories of Utah’s medical Cannabis patients. These individuals have shown incredible resilience and courage in the face of adversity, using legal Cannabis to transform their lives. The War on Drugs has cast a long shadow, especially in conservative Utah, but through these stories we hope to shed light on the brighter and safer alternatives that medical Cannabis offers.

The date was June 3, 2005, and it was a Friday night in Millcreek which held promise for 25-year-old Brandon Voorhees. He had just proposed to his girlfriend, Emily, and was looking forward to building a life together. Little did he know, a tragic accident was about to change the course of his life. While driving with his dog, a collision left him with severe head injuries, two epidural hematomas, a broken shoulder blade and more. He slipped into a coma and doctors prepared Emily for the possibility that Brandon might not remember her or even himself when he woke. Yet, against all odds, he emerged from the darkness.

Cannabis became a lifeline for Brandon as he battled PTSD, chronic pain and sleep disturbances. It offered him a path to recovery and allowed him to regain control of his life. His journey from that fateful night to becoming a medical Cannabis advocate exemplifies the healing power of this plant.

But Brandon’s story is just one among many in Utah’s growing community of patients – each with a unique journey – forming a tapestry of hope and healing.

Kristopher Kennedy, a 42-year-old father of three, faced an unexpected morning raid by law enforcement in West Valley City. He had been cultivating Cannabis to help his wife Heather overcome an opioid addiction that stemmed from prescribed medications for her post-surgery pain. The raid shattered their lives, resulting in charges that threatened their family’s well-being.

Despite the legal ordeal, Kristopher’s devotion to his family never wavered. Medical Cannabis had been their lifeline, helping Heather break free from opioids. This incident shed light on the lingering consequences of the War on Drugs, even in a state with a legal medical program.

Utah’s medical Cannabis patients come from diverse backgrounds, united by their pursuit of a better quality of life. Sarah Jacobs, a nurse practitioner, found herself advocating for Cannabis after witnessing its profound effects on her father’s battle with Parkinson’s disease. The relief it brought him inspired her to explore alternative treatments beyond conventional medicine.

Zac King, an LDS member from High Creek Canyon, Idaho, faced profound challenges after a paintball accident left him visually impaired. Cannabis also offered him a way to manage anxiety and find solace in the wake of his wife’s tragic death. He discovered a deeper connection between mindfulness, faith and plant medicine, transforming his life’s trajectory.

These patients, along with many others, demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative potential of medical Cannabis. While their stories highlight the positive impact of legalization, they also underscore the need for continued education and advocacy. The War on Drugs may still cast its shadow, but through these stories, we can illuminate a path toward healing, compassion and understanding.

As we conclude Salt Baked City’s journey, we carry with us the profound lessons learned from these remarkable individuals. Their courage and determination have paved the way for a brighter future in Utah, where the stigma surrounding medical Cannabis is gradually giving way to acceptance and hope. Utah Leaf begins its journey with a commitment to furthering this cause, amplifying the voices of patients and advocating for a safer and more compassionate approach to healthcare.

Photos by @kathrynxiv

This article was originally published in the November 2023 issue of Utah Leaf.

View our archive on issuu.

Are you 21 or older? This website requires you to be 21 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.