SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah)- It’s one of the most contested issues of this years legislative session and Friday, competing bills on medical marijuana hit the senate floor.
The two bills take different approaches to legalizing medical marijuana in Utah.
“I hear a lot of people say that marijuana is not a dangerous drug and you can’t do anything to yourself with it, seriously there are deaths from marijuana, there is significant overdose, there is issues leading to heroin deaths,” said Senator, Evan Vickers, ( R ) Cedar City.
Senate Bill 89, sponsored by Vickers passed second reading by a vote of 26-3.
That’s the bill that would increase the legal use of cannabis oil in our state.
“If it’s a medicine treat it like a medicine, both on the regulatory side and the medical side,” said Vickers.
Time ran out on Senator, Mark Madsen’s SB 73, the Medical Cannabis Act, but before a vote was pushed off until Monday the senate approved seven amendments to the bill to address opposition.
“Whatever the concerns are, they were substantial enough to have inhibited the progress of the bill,” said Madsen, ( R ) Saratoga Springs.
The amendments do things like give inspectors increased access to dispensaries, create distance requirements from schools and one had a significant impact.
It changed the bill from legalizing the whole plant to extracts only.
It would still allow consumption through vaping, edibles patches and other means.
Even though it’s not exactly what patients want, they are feeling better about its chances.
“I wasn’t sure going in that we would be this supported. I didn’t think we had the votes going in, I really didn’t. But, then I heard Weiler and Knudsen, those are two votes I didn’t think we had and so I’m very optimistic for Monday,” said Advocate and Patient, Christine Stenquist.
It appears the bill would have had the votes to pass second reading.
However, patients are still moving forward on a ballot initiative.
They want to be ready to take it to the voters if it fails at the legislature.