The fight to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis in Utah is not over. A bill that would have approved its use died during this year’s state legislative session, but the sponsor said he would try again next time. The bill would make marijuana a therapeutic option for those suffering from chronic and severe conditions such as cancer, epilepsy and AIDS who receive certification from a licensed physician.
When asked about the medical marijuana legislation, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Madsen (photo below), stated,
“We will absolutely bring that bill back. It will be improved, it’ll have the benefit of an additional year’s worth of work.”
While he expects it to be a tough battle, he is confident the tide is turning. Madsen explained that his constituents are already becoming more open to the idea, and he plans to hold town meetings to garner support about the prospect as well.
Madsen has traveled twice to nearby Colorado, and while there he took the opportunity to use cannabis to treat his chronic back pain. After his experiences with medicinal cannabis, he wants Utahans to have the same opportunity for pain relief alternative. Madsen elaborated,
“I took advantage of being there to get relief during my time there. But here in this state, I can’t go that far.”
The governor’s office said it is open to learning more about the idea, providing there are plenty of controls in place for how it would be prescribed and distributed, just as other controlled substances are handled. Madsen said his next attempt at passing the bill would include expert testimony that supports the use of medical cannabis.
An interim Health and Human Services Committee for Utah’s legislature is expected to look at the medical cannabis bill next week and discuss whether it should be looked into further.
The use of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), in the form of oil is already legal in Utah, and has been since March 2014, when Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB 105. HB 105 is very restrictive, only allowing patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to legally possess the concentrated oil. It does not establish a way for patients to have safe and reliable access to the medicine.