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Bill To Regulate Medical Marijuana In the Future Advances

istock / tvirbickis

On Monday, a bill focused on figuring out how medical marijuana would be regulated in the future, if it were legalized, passed out of committee. But while lawmakers were happy with the bill, some advocates opposed it.

SB211, the Cannabinoid Product Act, is one of several bills introduced this session to create a plan for possible medical marijuana legalization in Utah in the future.

The bill’s sponsor is Republican Representative Evan Vickers.

"If something was legalized, how would the state handle it? How would we decide who would be the growers, who would be the producers, who would have the dispensaries, what kinds of regulations would be included?" Vickers said during a Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting. 

Vickers’ bill would establish rules that say cannabis needs to be grown indoors, create labeling and testing requirements for cannabis products and clarify who could produce and distribute it.

In committee the bill was welcomed by Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis and Stan Rasmussen from the conservative Sutherland Institute. But some opposed it, including Christine Stenquist. She’s the President of Salt Lake City non-profit TRUCE or Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education.

"I am concerned that we’re not moving forward in a quicker manner. It seems like they’re only concerned about regulating it and not actually getting patient access," Stenquist said. 

A 2016 poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates showed 63 percent of Utahns support legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, but Stenquist believes that number is even higher. She said the best way forward for patients is through a citizen-driven ballot initiative.

In describing his bill, Representative Vickers, also mentioned the public’s growing support for medical marijuana.

"I do think that this movement is not going to stop. I do think there is going to be significant desire for this in our state," Vickers said. 

SB211 passed out of committee with unanimous support. The full Senate will now consider it.

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