UT: Bills Could Legalize Medical Marijuana For Terminally Ill

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan

Three bills under consideration in the 2018 Legislature would grant terminally ill patients the right to try medical marijuana grown and distributed by the state.

Rep. Brad M. Daw, R-Orem, is sponsoring HB195, HB197 and HB302. All the bills coordinate to legalize marijuana for medical use to terminally ill patients in Utah.

HB195: Right to try

If passed, HB195 would grant terminally ill patients the right to try cannabis-based treatment. A physician would have to recommend the treatment first. When the bill was first introduced, it said the physician would be responsible to recommend and provide the medical marijuana to the patient. A slight change made to the bill allows the physician to recommend medical marijuana to a patient, but not to be the provider.

Daw said a medicinal form of marijuana would not be smoked, but most likely come in a pill or transdermal form — “a specific well understood dose in a well understood regimen,” Daw said.

A Utah Chiefs of Police Association representative said they oppose HB195 during a house committee hearing on Jan. 31. The bill passed the committee and awaits debate on the House floor.

Ogden Police Chief Chief Randy Watt said medicinal marijuana has not been completely controlled in any U.S. location.

“The detrimental and negative effects to law enforcement first responders, medical providers, youth situations in schools is very well documented,” Watt said.

Watt also said police chiefs might be neutral on the bill if it were amended to say the prescription is managed by a medical research institute.

HB197: Cannabis cultivation amendments

If passed, HB197 would require the Department of Agriculture and Food to ensure the production and sale of marijuana in Utah for academic or medical research.

This would provide a way for terminal patients to obtain recommended medical marijuana.

Under this bill, the Department of Agriculture and Food would contract with third parties to grow and process marijuana legally for medical research. It would also establish a state dispensary where patients could get their approved dosage.

The bill says an individual growing and processing marijuana will not be in violation of the Controlled Substances Act as long as he or she is authorized to do so by the Department of Agriculture and Food.

DeAnn Kettenring spoke for the Utah PTA in support of HB197.

“We support drug policies that send clear and concise messages to our children that this is a medicinal issue not a social issue,” she said.

HB197 passed in the House committee; it will need to pass in the Senate before it can move on to Gov. Gary Herbert for signature.

HB302: Processing industrial hemp

HB302 authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Food to provide licenses for the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp.

Hemp, as defined by the bill, is any part of a cannabis plant with a concentration of less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol by weight. Products that can be made from industrial hemp range from fabrics and textiles to body care products to food.

HB302 would create a licensing process for industrial hemp products to be produced in Utah. It would also prohibit the production of industrial hemp without a license.

HB302 has been presented to a House committee but has not yet been voted on.