Utah State Legislature to consider new medical marijuana laws

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Salt Lake City –– The Health and Human Services Interim Committee met on May 20 to discuss future research and debate on medical marijuana laws in Utah.

“I ask the committee to hear all voices,” said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs. “There are divisions in politics, law enforcement, financiers and even the medical community. Therefore I advise the committee to hear all voices.”

In his opening remarks Madsen encouraged not only the committee but the public to consider open-minded discussions on this topic.

“I would also like to mention that we take into consideration how it (marijuana) became a Schedule 1 drug. Putting things into a historical context will help this committee make an informed decision,” Madsen said.

A Schedule 1 drug is a drug that cannot be prescribed and has been deemed as not having any clinical uses. The Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as such.

Madsen feels strongly that the classifying of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug has not allowed for the research necessary to allow the government to make informed decisions.

“We are not here to debate today. Today we want to address certain issues and decide how to then dig deeper into each of these issues,” said Interim Chair Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City. “However, I do agree with Senator Madsen that we as a committee need to vet this issue completely.”

Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

“What we need to know is if in the states that have passed this (medical marijuana) there has been an increase in teen marijuana use,” Madsen said.

Madsen quoted research conducted by the Washington Post at the meeting that suggests there has been no change in these states. “Push through the propaganda, and make an informed decision.”

In 2014 Utah State Legislature passed law HB 105, which decriminalized the use of marijuana extract for medical purposes. The law allows the use of hemp oils to be used to aid epileptic children. HB 105 was the first marijuana-based law passed in Utah.

While no laws can be passed during the interim session, medical marijuana is on the horizon of Utah State politics.

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