Several medical marijuana bills will be introduced in Utah’s upcoming legislative session. But not all cannabis advocates support them.
At least five proposals about marijuana and hemp will be introduced next session. They range from small changes to existing laws to increasing access to the plant for patients in end-of-life care.
Republican Representative Brad Daw is helping write one bill that would allow Utah to regulate products that contain hemp oil. It’s used to treat medical conditions including epilepsy.
"It’s saying if you want to sell in the state you got to have accurate labeling, you got to meet a certain bar. You can’t just claim it’s hemp oil and go ahead and sell it. There has to be some controls on what it is," Daw says.
Other bills would allow the Utah Department of Agriculture to oversee production of hemp for commercial uses and marijuana for research purposes. Republican Representative Evan Vickers will reintroduce a bill that would create a framework for growing, processing and distributing medical marijuana if it ever became legal in Utah.
There is, of course, another big marijuana proposal in the works. It’s a citizen ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana.
Christine Stenquist works with the Utah Patients Coalition, the group that introduced it. She describes many of Daw’s bills as roadblocks to real access to the drug for patients.
"In my personal opinion, for patient access, the ballot initiative is the only thing that’s going for patient’s favor, currently," Stenquist says.
If the initiative passed, it would override all of the other proposed legislation.