While debate rages at the Utah Capitol over two competing medical marijuana bills, one lawmaker has come up with a resolution to encourage more research that all sides seem to agree on.
Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa is an Emergency Physician in Salt Lake City. He’s listened to the arguments on both sides of the medical marijuana debate, and he’s convinced more study is needed.
“I’ve treated a lot of patients who have been on recreational and medical marijuana, and I don’t think it’s nearly as harmful as some people say,” Shiozawa says. “I also don’t think it’s the panacea and the cure-all that other people say.”
Part of the reason that more research hasn’t been done is because marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug in the US, putting it in the same category with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. “It’s actually a felony for researchers to do any research on marijuana,” Shiozawa says.
He’s introduced a resolution which calls on Congress to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule 2 drug. It also calls on Utah’s research institutions to collaborate on a formal investigation into the benefits of medical marijuana and report their findings to lawmakers.
In a Senate committee hearing, Shiozawa’s resolution was supported by academic researchers, The Utah Eagle Forum, and Michelle McOmber of the Utah Medical Association.
“His thoughtful approach is absolutely the appropriate approach to bringing this forward and looking at it in a way that we can put some science behind it, that we can actually look at the studies out there, that we can study them in a way that is appropriate, and make some decisions based on science and not based on just emotion,” McOmber said.
The resolution was approved unanimously by the Health and Human Services committee. On Friday, the Senate is expected to take up two proposals that would make some or all of the marijuana plant legal for medical use in Utah.