Utah State Legislature to consider two medical marijuana bills

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah State Legislature will consider two separate medical marijuana bills when it meets next year.

But cannabis advocates claim only one of those bills will actually do patients some good.

The legislature's interim Health and Human Services Committee met Wednesday to discuss a pair of bills. One is sponsored by Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem; the other is sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs.

Rep. Daw said his bill would allow for cannabidoil to be used to treat a long list of diseases and conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy. He told the committee that prescribing doctors would provide research on its effectiveness to the legislature that would be considered when the law would come up for renewal.

"We feel like this is the prudent manner that to allow for patients to be treated with a component of marijuana that can be considered medicinal," said Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, in support of Rep. Daw's bill.

Sen. Madsen's bill would allow for THC to be used in cannabis products to treat a similar list of ailments.

"There are clearly differences in the history of the two bills, the underlying philosophy of the two bills," Madsen told the committee.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Salt Lake City, tried to pinpoint the differences.

"Is CBD going to be able to do the deal? Is it going to be as effective as THC in terms of treating these conditions?" he asked Madsen.

"I believe no," he replied.

Medical marijuana advocates agreed. At a news conference Wednesday, the Drug Policy Project of Utah highlighted people who have tried numerous prescription drugs for treatment, but found relief through cannabis.

"I’m asking for the decision to use medical cannabis to treat my very rare disorder to be a decision I make, with my physicians, who are experts on my condition and my health," said Jessica Gleim, who suffers from a rare chronic pain condition. "I am asking our state representatives to include all of us suffering in pain to be in a medical cannabis program here in Utah."

The committee passed Rep. Daw's bill out favorably. Sen. Madsen's bill was still being drafted so the committee took no action on it. He told lawmakers he would have the bill ready in time for the legislative session.

Meanwhile, the committee voted to recommend that the legislature continue to allow cannabis oil for epileptic children. Charlee's Law passed two years ago and is up for a sunset in 2016. The committee voted to change the date to 2020.

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