SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 25, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Senate has passed State Bill 73, the more controversial of two medical marijuana bills to be considered during the state’s current legislature session.
SB 89, which the Senate passed Monday, legalizes use of a highly regulated medical marijuana extract that does not provide a high to the user.
SB 73, passed Thursday afternoon, does the same, except that the extract used does provide a euphoric high.
SB 73, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs), passed Thursday with a vote of 17 to 12. Immediately, a cheer arose from spectators seated in the gallery.
Madsen had softened the bill, originally known as the “whole plant” bill, after opposition from other senators and several statements by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Among Madsen’s changes ─ which he has said he made grudgingly to keep the bill alive ─ were that the less expensive dried cannabis suggested in the bill was replaced with an extract, which is much more costly.
The LDS Church released a series of statements indicating its strong for SB 89 over SB 73. The most recent statement, which came after bill modification by Madsen, was the least stringent in its opposition, but still did not give its approval to SB 73. It reads:
“In our view, the issue for the Utah Legislature is how to enable the use of marijuana extracts to help people who are suffering without increasing the likelihood of misuse at a time when drug abuse in the United States is at epidemic proportions, especially among youth. Recent changes to SB 73 are substantial improvements. We continue to urge Legislators to take into account the acknowledged need for scientific research in the matter and to fully address regulatory controls on manufacture and distribution for the health and safety of Utahns.”
Both bills support the regulated use of medical marijuana to provide relief to patients with serious, chronic and debilitating medical conditions. Both bills would require a doctor’s prescription.
Gephardt Daily will provide more information on this story as the bills are debated in the Utah House of Representatives.