Medical marijuana might not hit House floor on last day of legislature

Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 19:53:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The legislature is wrapping up, with lawmakers racing to pass bills before they must adjourn Thursday.

Some of the biggest debates over the biggest bills have yet to happen, including medical marijuana, a repeal of the death penalty, polygamy and abortion.

On Wednesday night, SB89 sponsor Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, told FOX 13 he was still working on compromise legislation on the medical marijuana bill that passed a House committee earlier this week.

"I feel pretty good right now. The fact is, we've had a lot of collaboration from a lot of different people and we're in a very good place," he said.

SB89 has been criticized for not being as robust as a bill preferred by patients and medical marijuana advocates, SB73. That bill died in committee. Rep. Daw said he has made six amendments to SB89.

"A 50/50 Cannabidiol THC, so a lot higher THC than previous bills. Any doctor can administer it for a given set of conditions," Daw said, adding that there is a cannabis specialist, and a pediatric specialist to deal with particular issues.

The bill is racing the clock and if last-minute negotiations fall apart, there remains a chance that medical marijuana may not be heard on the House floor. Thursday is the final day of the legislative session.

But lawmakers have been passing quite a bit of legislation that affects Utahns' lives, including:

  • The Senate passed a bill that would have parents who want to exempt their child from immunizations to watch a video or consult with their local health department before the child goes to school;
  • A bill that seeks to make truancy an infraction on the first offense;
  • The House approved a Senate measure that provides oversight for court-appointed defense attorneys (in some cases, people had been appearing in court without a lawyer);
  • The House approved a major water infrastructure bill that would dip into sales tax dollars to fund everything from pipes in the street to the Lake Powell Pipeline;
  • Lawmakers have agreed to spend $27 million over three years to help the homeless by building new shelters and funding more social services;
  • A controversial bill that would ban non-compete contracts in Utah was watered down, with the Senate limiting no competes to one year after lobbying by businesses;
  • The Senate passed a resolution asking the Feds to reimburse Utah $1 million for keeping the national parks open during the government shutdown;
  • As part of the overall budget, lawmakers voted to commit $4.5 million toward any lawsuit Utah might pursue against the federal government for control of public lands;
  • Lawmakers passed a bill allowing for wine tastings;

In a moment of levity on the Senate floor, Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, dressed in colonial garb to push a resolution honoring Lin Manuel Miranda, the author of the Broadway musical "Hamilton." Dabakis awkwardly rapped lines from the musical to laughter from his colleagues.

The resolution passed, but Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, had concerns.

"The play, however clever as it is, is ribald and I don't know it's necessarily the purview of the Senate to be sending a letter to the New York Acting Society saying we support it," she said. "I don't know that we're elected to do Broadway reviews."