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Reeling after the defeat of his medical marijuana bill, Sen. Mark Madsen said Monday that he is moving to South America where he said he can have more freedom to make his own choices.
"I've long since concluded that I desire more freedom in my individual life than I'm allowed to have in this state," said Madsen, who indicated the move was something he and his family had wanted to do and was not simply the result of the defeat of his marijuana legislation.
Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, has served in the Legislature since 2005 and is not seeking re-election this year.
Madsen's bill was almost certainly killed by the House Health and Human Services Committee, which refused to send it to the full House for consideration. There are some options, all of them long shots, for bringing it to the floor for a vote.
"This state is not welcoming to people who want to live their lives and be free to make choices for themselves," Madsen told reporters Monday. "There are a lot of people in this state who love to have people tell them what to do, and they've elected the right people to do that for them. These people will love to tell them what to do as much as possible. But not me, and that's why I'm not suited for this state."
Madsen, who acknowledged last year that he had tried medical marijuana to treat chronic back pain, said his choice of locale would not be determined by the availability of marijuana, although it happens to be available where he's planning to move.
The senator accused House leaders of sending his bill to a hostile "kill committee," stacked with representatives inclined to oppose it as a way to make sure it didn't get a vote in the House. The result, he said, is devastating for people who say their health depends on access to the drug.
"That's the hardest part, is that these people are now condemned to suffering or persecution [or] prosecution. It harms the reputation of our state. We're seen as being uncompassionate, forcing these people to live in the shadows and tearing families apart because people are trying to be healthy," Madsen said. "I think it's disgusting. I just don't want to be associated with it."