This bill could legalize medical marijuana in Utah; Here’s what it does

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill that could legalize medical cannabis in Utah has been introduced in the state legislature.

Senate Bill 259, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, would allow for people with debilitating illnesses (such as AIDS, cancer and other qualifying conditions) to possess and use cannabis -- in gummy or liquid form.

Asked by FOX 13 if he has ever tried marijuana, Sen. Madsen revealed that he did.

"I drove to Colorado, weekend before last and tried that under the direction of my doctor," he replied.

The senator said he has been treated for back problems requiring him to see specialists across the United States. The doctors suggested medical cannabis as opposed to prescription opioids.

"I think it’s effective," Sen. Madsen said Wednesday. "It has effective analgesic properties. I observed a dimmunition in my level of pain."

Under SB259, dispensaries would be licensed by the state to distribute cannabis products. Sen. Madsen insisted that recreational marijuana would remain illegal in Utah, as would smoking it (even if it were medicinal).

Sen. Madsen spent Wednesday meeting with people to discuss his bill. Even Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, had questions for him.

"Is it more or less addictive than opioids?" Sen. Niederhauser asked him.

Madsen replied that he believed it was less addictive.

Sen. Madsen said it was learning more about the benefits of medical cannabis that encouraged him to run this bill. He was also touched by the stories of epileptic children whose parents lobbied the legislature for cannabis oil treatments last year.

Lawmakers expressed skepticism about the bill's chances.

"I think it creates an atmosphere of more caution, but that’s something the bill is going to have to deal with," Niederhauser said.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told reporters: "I'm not nuts about it."

"What I worry is that we’re really not talking about medical care, we’re just trying to potentially legalize marijuana," Hughes said. "For me? I’m not interested in going that direction."

Governor Gary Herbert also expressed opposition to the bill.

"I'm a little concerned about what I've observed in other states, where they've said you can grow for medical purposes and you own kind of your own self-diagnosis," he said in a news conference Tuesday. "Or you can get some doctor who is less strict about his own diagnosis and the next thing you know, we've got recreational marijuana."

Sen. Madsen said his fellow lawmakers need to be educated about medical cannabis.

"I think we need to push past the emotion and propaganda that’s been promulgated over the years to get to the facts. Once people look at it with an eye toward facts and freedom, we might change some opinions," he said. "'Reefer Madness' is neither medical research nor public policy. It’s a propaganda movie and we can’t be basing our policy on that anymore, I believe."

Sen. Madsen has fast-tracked the bill. It was unveiled Wednesday and has its first hearing on Thursday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's the committee he chairs.



  • james

    I pray that they legalize it as soon as possible, I found out this week my mom has stage 4 cancer, and I don’t want my mom to suffer pain from chemo and everything else that is caused by cancer. I want to have that option to provide to my mom medical marijuana. I wish the Utah government would open their eyes and see the great benefits of medical marijuana.

      • caleb o

        that’s simply not an option for a great deal of people. if that is your solution then please stay home on voting day. people need this and regardless on your stance on the plant. Do you really think people should be jailed for deciding for themselves what works for them? or are you in favor of keeping utah at the top of the list for prescription drug overdoses?

    • David K

      Compared to other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

      Those are the findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly-used substances.

      They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.

      At the bottom of the list? Marijuana — roughly 114 times less deadly than booze, according to the authors, who ran calculations that compared lethal doses of a given substance with the amount that a typical person uses.

      Adverse effects regarding marijuana are associated with heavy, regular, long-term adolescent use. This is the type of use that a legalization and regulation of marijuana can reduce. We are all better off to have marijuana sold in a legal retail market that asks for ID’s, sells only marijuana, pays taxes, and settle their disputes in our courts. A visible legal company allows far more societal control than a hidden underground criminal enterprise with no government controls.

      As the DEA’s own administrative law judge, Francis Young, concluded after an exhaustive review of the evidence: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” Legalize and regulate like alcohol in 2016. This is the right thing to do for the people of Utah and especially for our children who may seek marijuana but are given black tar heroin by cartel dealers.

  • Nathan2B

    I found out to late that Mary Jane can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. I found out to late that it could have helped my family have more time with my mom. I think it is time that we all voice our opinions to the Governor and legislature that it is time to Legalize Adulthood in the State of Utah, we are more then capable of making decisions for ourselves. Maybe it is time to start a Petition to make them realize that We The People want change. I have used Mary Jane to help me with Migraines, and Neck and back pain, I have Degenerative disk disease in my neck. Politicians need to realize that just because they are politicians does not mean they are smarter than the people they are supposed to Represent.

    • Dave K

      I know how difficult it is to live with Alzheimer’s as both my brother and I struggled with my father’s Alzheimers and dementia for many years prior to his death at 95 years of age. This information was not available at the time that my family struggled with this but perhaps this information can help someone else. You are not likely to hear information such as this from your politicians.

      The U.S. Patent Office issued patent #6630507 to the U.S.Health and Human Services filed on 2/2/2001. The patent lists the use of certain cannabinoids found within the cannabis sativa plant as useful in certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and HIV dementia.

      “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Non Psychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”

      Since cannabis sativa (marijuana) contains compounds recognized and endorsed by an agency of the U.S. government, why is it that marijuana remains on the Federal Schedule One list of drugs? The issuance of patent #6630507 is a direct contradiction of the government’s own definition for classification of a Schedule 1 drug.

  • Herb Grinder

    “The idea of any government declaring a plant “illegal” is absurd,the idea that citizens need ask permission from the government to use it is obscene.”

  • Brittney

    Oh for god sakes this state is a joke everybody in utah is controlled by religion and peope who dont have open minds this is the future marijuana is helping people why cant we all just see that quit living in a box and see what the world is coming to this plant was put here by god for us to share heal and live by if it was so bad it wouldent be getting legalized in states why does someone always need to control people your in control of yourself not others compared to what we are given by the government in our food in prescriptions and things we wash with marijuana is a medicine and medicine should only be helping you not making you even more ill or making you have horrible side affects

  • Dave K

    Prohibition results in a total lack of control. Colorado does not have a marijuana problem. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, an increase in jobs, and their actions have reduced deaths from opiate overdoses there. Colorado’s state economy is reported to be the fastest growing in the nation. Today (February 25, 2015) it was reported that 58% of Colorado voters continue to be happy with their decision to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol. Last year they collected close to 70 million dollars in medical and recreational taxes from legal, regulated marijuana. They plan to use this for their schools and to repair their failing infrastructure. Despite concerns before the passage of the initiative, not a single zombie has been seen piloting planes out of Denver’s airports nor are they seen driving their buses.

    Legislators and prosecutors advocate that we continue a broken and failed system that benefits only the Mexican drug cartels and our Right Wing Nut Jobs who Police for Profit from the citizens of our state. This approach to the “marijuana problem” has resulted in cheaper drugs, more potent drugs, and easier access for our children than when we began the War on Drugs but our politicians who are highly invested in private prisons have prospered. Under the current system marijuana became our number one cash crop, surpassing both wheat and corn combined. In 1937 Harry Anslinger (our first drug czar) testified before congress that 100,000 people had used marijuana just before the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. Today it is estimated that 100,000,000 of our citizens, including our last three presidents have used it. Marijuana prohibition has resulted in a thousandfold increase in its use. Still, our politicians and those who Police for Profit try to spin this into a win in the War on Drugs. As taxpayers, we paid between 1 and 1.5 TRILLION dollars to have this done to us!

    The Mexican drug cartels and the gang bangers that they hire to sell drugs settle their disputes with guns on our streets and in our neighborhoods every day. They are estimated to run a 64 billion dollar annual drug business in the US. They currently make available black tar heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth to our kids and any seeking to purchase marijuana.

    We are all better off to have marijuana sold in a local and legal retail market that asks for ID’s, sells only marijuana, pays taxes, and settle their disputes in our courts. A visible, legal company allows far more societal control than a hidden underground criminal enterprise with no government controls. The primary problems of concern that drug warriors report with marijuana occur with early adolescent use. These are the kinds of problems that regulation can improve if those who sell marijuana ask for ID’s and do not sell to kids.

    The Washington Post recently reported that farmers in the storied “Golden Triangle” region of Mexico’s Sinaloa state, which has produced the country’s most notorious gangsters and biggest marijuana harvests, say they are no longer planting the crop. The wholesale price has collapsed in the past five years, from $100 per kilogram to less than $25. It is clear that legalization and regulation is having a monetary impact on the drug cartels who are estimated to make 60% of their profits from marijuana.

    Legalize and regulate in 2016! This is the right thing to do for the citizens of Utah and especially for our children who may be seeking marijuana but instead are offered black tar heroin by cartel dealers.

  • Dave K

    The following information is not from the bong shop down on the corner nor are you likely to hear about it from politicians or our Right Wing Nut Jobs who Police for Profit from their citizens. At the conclusion of a recent study by the US Dept of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was asked how many crash fatalities are caused by marijuana each year. “That’s difficult to say,” replied Jeff Michael, NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and program development. “We don’t have a precise estimate.” The most he was willing to affirm was that the number is “probably not” zero. Although experiments show that marijuana impairs driving ability, the effects are not nearly as dramatic as those seen with alcohol, and measuring the real-world consequences has proven very difficult, as demonstrated by a landmark study that NHTSA released recently. In “the first large-scale [crash risk] study in the United States to include drugs other than alcohol,” NHTSA found that, once the data were adjusted for confounding variables, cannabis consumption was not associated with an increased probability of getting into an accident. The people repealed one expensive and damaging prohibition, and we can do it again. Legalize and regulate everywhere in 2016!

  • BossIlluminati

    Fastest growing industry in America? Legal marijuana, coming to your town very soon….#1 crop in California and LEGAL in ALL west coast states

    after spending a lifetime protecting the freedoms of the people of UTAH, you would hope they would show a little more respect……..sad UTAH, so sad

    • Sara

      Gotta mention that Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) I and others thank you and appreciate your efforts to end Marijuana prohibition. Incarceration Nation we can no longer be, we must fight the good fight and legalization is the right thing to do. As a non-user, I will adamantly stand up for my freedom to choose! Please citizens of the United States, Stand Up for Legalization of Marijuana. Marijuana has been well tested and has been found to have far fewer side effects and is more effective in treating certain conditions than many other medicines on the market. The pharmaceutical companies might not profit so much and we will all have an herbal alternative to their chemicals dreadful side effects. Growing it ourselves, and using it in a respectful way, as God intended. Prescriptions are handed out each day and people don’t even question the long list of side effects those pills might have, while an herb like Marijuana continues to be used to fill our prisons and ruin non-violent citizens lives. Incarceration Nation=America, this needs to end…

  • Sara

    Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have introduced bills to help end Marijuana prohibition. Incarceration Nation we can no longer be, we must fight the good fight and legalization is the right thing to do. As a non-user, I will adamantly stand up for my freedom to choose! Please citizens of the United States, Stand Up for Legalization of Marijuana.

  • Demdog

    What a joke…..Wayne neiderhauser sitting there with a scared look on his face. He is probably worried that someone will remember his campaign against Trisha Beck. At the request of constituents to have representatives study the benefits of medicinal marijuana ……Trisha stated that the study should be considered since the voters had requested the interest. Senator neiderhauser passed out a flyer soon after with a misleading representation that candidate Beck supported legalizing marijuana. It also included a very unflattering photo of Ms. Beck with a couple of rolled “joints” next to her face. It was a deceitful and repulsive tactic, but very successful with the gullible and uneducated voters in Utah. Who would have ever thought that eventually Wayne would be sitting next to a fellow legislaterer on television who would be defending and pleading for some understanding and compassion for his own health issues, along with innocent children with seizure disorders that can both benefit from the benefits of cannabis oil.

    Perhaps you should run again Trisha, the deceptive and deceitful tactics this time might just backfire!

  • Jason

    I hope it gets legalized for medical I have seen several of my family members with bipolar, depression, and chronic pain use it and it has helped them out a lot it takes pain away it stabilizes ur mood and helps people who can’t eat be able to eat again and gain weight

  • Alex

    Why is it up to senators? Why is it up to government? Both the governor of this state and mr. hughes expressed there opinions…………… What about my opinion? What about the rest of the people in Utah and their opinion?? Does Utah not have the people vote like every other state?

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