Utah lawmakers hear debate on two bills regarding legalizing medical marijuana

Posted at 3:28 PM, Oct 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-22 13:46:13-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah legislators heard debate Wednesday morning on two bills with different approaches to legalizing medical marijuana in some situations in the Beehive State.

One of the bills is from Senator Mark Madsen, R-District 13, who wants medical cannabis to be available to those patients who are suffering from certain illnesses, including chronic pain and PTSD among other conditions.

His bill includes changes from his last draft, including that a primary care doctor cannot prescribe medical cannabis. The prescription must come from a specialist instead.

Another bill is from Representative Brad Daw, R-District 60, and Senator Evan Vickers, R-District 28. It states only the cannabis oil with low THC levels will be prescribed to select patients, and doctors prescribing it can only prescribe it to 100 patients at a time.

Many people voiced their concerns over both bills, with some saying the bill from Daw and Vickers does not provide enough medical treatment for patients needing the benefits from cannabis with higher THC levels and others saying both bills will lead to more deaths among Utah’s youth.

“We are worried about expanding it all because we know it will increase our youth to use, which will increase the risk of meth and heroin,” said Bountiful Chief of Police Tom Ross. “Marijuana is a gateway drug.”

Madsen argued that offering medical cannabis would actually reduce deaths, since some patients could begin using THC instead of opiate-based drugs.

“We don't know how it works,” Senator Mark Madsen said. “That's what the bureaucrats and the labs coats at the FDA could take years to figure it out, but I don't want to wait years to give relief to people. I want to start saving lives and eliminating opiate overdoses right now. If we don't take up THC and receive the medicinal benefits of THC, we are not going to see any offset in the opiate overdose deaths.”

Both bills will go to a vote in November.