Bill to modify medical cannabis law goes before committee

Local (Utah/State News)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A new bill will change the way Utah patients get their hands on medical cannabis.

But, exactly what that change will look like is up for debate yet again.

Monday, one week ahead of the special session, Senator Evan Vickers presented it to the Health and Human Services Interim Committee.

It makes changes to the bill the legislature passed to replace Proposition 2.

“Like any piece of legislation we’ve learned a lot more, there’s been more input, and while we were very concerned about, and opposed to this idea upfront we’ve let it play out, we’ve seen it run into problems, so now we are going to take care of those problems,” said Connor Boyack with the Libertas Institute.

That idea was a state central fill proposal, which would have required government employees to be part of the distribution process.

The new bill will eliminate that in favor of 12 privately owned dispensaries.

It will also address protections for patients, local government regulation, increase the legal amount patients can possess and more.

Nate Kizerian lost his wife to cancer and says medical cannabis greatly improved her life down the final stretch.

He says the modifications are desperately needed.

“I think it’s a dumpster fire. That’s the only thing I can call HB 3001 because they have completely cutout patients,” said Kizerian.

But, others say a deal is a deal.

Gayle Ruzicka with the Utah Eagle Forum says the central fill was crucial to the compromise.

“We were told because there was a compromise, and the compromise was going to be a lot better than Prop 2 and would we please back off. Based on the people that asked us to back off, we did exactly that,” said Ruzika.

Patient advocates say it just isn’t going to work and you can’t force it.

Christine Stenquist with TRUCE says it needs even more modifications.

“It still has a lot of hurdles to go through. We still are seeing a very convoluted program, a lot of hoop-jumping, and so I’m still very concerned about what we are seeing today,” said Stenquist.

Stenquist and other patients say their voices have been silenced.

Boyack, who has been heavily involved in the negotiations says patients have been involved.

“You probably aren’t going to include patients that have been firing a machine gun at you politically to be part of that conversation, but we’ve had input from dozens and dozens of patients,” he said.

The bill remains a work-in-progress and could undergo more changes before the special session.

One amendment we know will be introduced would increase the 12 dispensaries to 20.

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For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...

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