Former White House adviser in Utah to discuss marijuana access

Posted at 9:37 PM, Feb 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-07 23:37:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY – A former White House drug adviser was in Utah Friday night to talk about what he calls the dangers of legalized marijuana, and he also spoke about efforts in Utah to give children who suffer from seizures access to a strain of cannabis oil that may help treat their condition.

Doctor Kevin Sabet’s visit comes the day after FOX 13 News’ Gene Kennedy brought us the story of a Utah family who uprooted their lives and moved to Colorado in an effort to get an oil made from marijuana plants that could help with their son's seizures.

While speaking at Friday’s conference, Sabet said legal pot is the new big tobacco, and he said there are dangers there.

"Today's weed is not your Woodstock weed of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s,” he said. “It is five to seven times more potent."

But Sabet said he isn’t opposed to medicinal applications for children facing seizures.

"I am in favor of that if we could find a way to do it,” he said.

David and Mandi Cromar moved from Utah to Colorado to get access to the oil for their son. Stories like theirs are the reason Utah State Rep. Gage Froerer, R-District 8, has written a bill that would allow for access to the oil in Utah.

"What this does is it gives the parents, the families in the state that have children with epilepsy, the ability to apply for a waiver so that they're not held liable under the state law for possession of this hemp extract,” Froerer said.

Sabet told FOX 13 News such a bill would conflict with federal law, but he said that doesn’t mean parents are without recourse.

“It is unconstitutional because marijuana is illegal,” he said. “These parents should enroll in a federal research program that exists today. It’s called an FDA IND program, and that program will get them what they want. I think this bill is grandstanding.”

However, others, like officials with the group Hope for Children with Epilepsy, said the program Sabet mentioned is not currently available in Utah and is limited to a certain number of children.