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Senator Postpones Next Vote on Medical Marijuana while Another Amendment Takes Shape

Andrea Smardon
Senator Mark Madsen (R-13) holds a stack of scientific studies on medical marijuana. (Feb. 22, 2016)

Utah Senators were expected to take a vote on medical marijuana legislation Tuesday, but the bill’s sponsor Mark Madsen asked for more time to talk with his colleagues. Meanwhile, there’s an amendment in the works to address the risk of children overdosing.

Republican Senator and emergency physician Brian Shiozawa has several concerns about Senate Bill 73, which would allow patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s approval. One of the biggest issues is the risk of children accessing someone else’s medication. Shiozawa wants to add an amendment that makes sure the packaging is up to federal standards of childhood protection.

“One of the problems we’re seeing in the Colorado experience is increasing pediatric overdoses, particularly in the edible forms and things like that,” Shiozawa says. “We’re going to have to watch this real carefully. There is no question there is going to be some unintended increased pediatric usage because of medicines left lying around or access to those. Now, that’s a risk we’re going to have to worry about.”

Senator Mark Madsen says he’s happy to work with Shiozawa to incorporate the amendment.

“I want to make the bill good,” Madsen says. “This is a very marginal aspect of the bill compared to what the real meat of it is, so we can solve those things very easily.”

Madsen says he wants to make sure he addresses any remaining questions and concerns from fellow Senators before SB73 comes to a final vote in the chamber. The last preliminary vote from the Senate was 15 to 13. At this point, Madsen believes he has enough votes to pass the bill out of the Senate and on to the House.  He told KUER that he thinks at least one Republican senator who hasn’t yet supported the bill may be voting yes in the final roll call vote.

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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