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Senator Proposes Medical Marijuana for Utah

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The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up a medical marijuana bill on Thursday. Sponsoring Sen. Mark Madsen is optimistic about his legislation after an weekend expedition to Colorado to learn firsthand the medical application of cannabis.

A new bill would make Utah the 24th state to allow the medical use of marijuana. The measure also allows for medical marijuana entrepreneurs.

Republican State Sen. Mark Madsen drove to Colorado over Valentines Day weekend to try an alternative treatment for his longtime back injury. Eating a cannabis gummy candy and inhaling from a vape pen eased his pain, but it didn’t cause the mayhem the hype led him to expect. The experience convinced him medical marijuana is really about compassion and freedom to use effective medical treatments.

“It has been a revelation,” Madsen told reporters Wednesday, “and my perspective has certainly changed although I wasn’t anti- before.”

Madsen’s Senate Bill 259 would allow every thing from the growing of cannabis to the consumption of edibles, tinctures and oils by Utahns suffering from cancer, chronic pain and glaucoma.

Users would need a prescription and a $25 permit from the State Tax Commission. Associated businesses would need to show they have $750,000 in assets.

Madsen is optimistic fellow senators will support the bill. Yet, with Governor Herbert and other lawmakers expressing reservations, he anticipates obstacles.

“If we can, again, get to the facts and have this conversation and push past years of Reefer Madness-type propaganda, I think we will have success,” he said.

Madsen says he will be flanked by medical professionals and law enforcement when he presents the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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