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Medical Marijuana to be considered by Legislative Panels

Brian Grimmett
KUER file photo
Senator Mark Madsen (R-13)

Two medical marijuana proposals will be vetted by separate Utah legislative committees Thursday.

Republican Senator Mark Madsen of Eagle Mountain is in his last term as a Utah legislator, and his main priority is to pass a medical marijuana bill. Madsen, who has suffered from chronic back pain himself, says Utahns need an alternative to addictive pain killers. Last year, after Madsen’s cannabis bill failed to pass, he presented new legislation to an interim committee that spent 12 hours reviewing the issue.

“We have a lot of science that shows that it benefits them and improves their quality of life. We don’t know how it works. That’s what the bureaucrats and the lab coats at the FDA could take years to figure out, but what I want to do is not take years to give relief to people,” Madsen says. “I want to start saving lives and eliminating opioid overdoses right now.”

Madsen’s bill allows specialized doctors to prescribe marijuana for nine categories of illness including cancer, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, and chronic pain. But Republican Representative Brad Daw says the marijuana plant is not approved by the medical community and more research is needed.

“Whole plant access is not medicine,” Daw says. “If you have whole plant access, you have no idea what it is you're getting. It could be a high THC plant. It could be a low THC plant. Real medicine says you have reliable, predictable composition and results from the medication.”

Daw and GOP Senator Evan Vickers have a more limited proposalwhich would allow only for the prescription of cannabinoid oil. Daw says his bill addresses the concerns of law enforcement and medical professionals. Madsen says it’s designed to kill his plan and would leave many Utahns to suffer. The two plans will be heard in separate committees. If approved, they will move on to the full Senate for consideration.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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