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Most Utahns Want Medical Marijuana—And Lawmakers Are Working On It

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At least one Utah lawmaker is crafting new bill to legalize medical marijuana, and another is hoping to legally study the drug.

After two different medical marijuana bills failed to pass in the legislature earlier this year, Rep. Gage Froerer (R-Huntsville) says he’s working on another bill for 2017. Froerer says his legislation would create a Cannabis Board made up of doctors, pharmacists, patients and other stakeholders to come up with regulations and best practices.

He says he’s also been studying how the 26 states that have legalized medical marijuana have chosen to manage it. 

“We’ve looked at every state and analyzed and tried to come up with what is best in each of those states and incorporate that into this bill,” Froerer says.

A recent poll by Utah Policy found that nearly two thirds of Utah voters support legalizing marijuana for medical use.

But Sen. Brian Shiazowa (R-Cottonwood Heights) says he’s tired of waiting for legislative action and wants to see more research done—whether or not medical marijuana becomes legal in Utah. Shiazowa, who also works as an emergency room physician, says he’s been in talks with some of Utah’s research institutions to work on getting DEA approval and grants for further study.  

“We don’t have to necessarily wait for the session,” he says. “We could potentially look at this much sooner than, say, looking at a ballot initiative in 2019 or some of the other legislation that really failed last session.”

While the two medical marijuana bills failed to pass earlier this year, lawmakers unanimously agreed that more research would be beneficial. Shiazowa says the most important thing for him is helping patients get access to treatment that works. 

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