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Utah Lawmakers Debate 2 Medical Marijuana Proposals Thursday

Utah Lawmakers Debate 2 Medical Marijuana Proposals Thursday

By Zachary Babin - February 4, 2016

Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A renewed push for a broad medical marijuana program in Utah faces its first hurdle in a legislative hearing Thursday afternoon as another group of lawmakers debates a more limited program allowing pot-infused oil to people diagnosed with cancer, HIV and other conditions.

Utah passed a very restricted law two years ago allowing those with severe epilepsy to have the extract oil if they obtain it from other states like Colorado.

A Senate health committee will hear from two Republican legislators Thursday who want to allow those with cancer, AIDS and other painful conditions to use the oil. Rep. Brad Daw of Orem and Sen. Evan Vickers of Cedar City also want to allow the oil to be made in Utah.

The oil, called cannabidiol, is made from a strain of the cannabis plant that’s low in THC, the hallucinogenic chemical in marijuana, and high in CBD, a chemical that some believe helps fight seizures.

But some suffering from chronic pain have criticized the plan from Daw and Vickers, arguing that their conditions won’t qualify or that they need treatment from products that include higher levels of THC.

One of those is Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, who said his chronic back pain prompted him to try pot-infused gummy bears in Colorado last year.

Madsen proposes that Utah allow those with chronic or debilitating conditions to use edible marijuana products but ban smoking pot.

Some Republicans have said they worry it’s too broad and there’s not enough science to show marijuana is a safe or effective treatment.

Madsen’s bill is also scheduled to be heard Thursday afternoon but by a Senate committee that handles law enforcement and legal issues. Madsen chairs the committee, which approved his very similar proposal last year.

If the bill again wins approval Thursday, it will face a key test when it goes before the full Senate for a vote. That’s where the measure died last year by one vote as Madsen’s colleagues cited concerns that the proposal was rushed and could have unintended consequences.

Madsen argues Utah should join more than 20 other states that have passed medical marijuana programs and give its citizens the freedom to alleviate their pain.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said last month that it’s common sense to allow people with certain medical conditions to use marijuana, but he wants any program to have strict controls.

Associated Press