Gov. Herbert signs medical cannabis adjustments bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill that makes “adjustments and clarifications” to the state’s medical cannabis law.

Herbert said the changes in Senate Bill 121 “will help ensure that Utah patients have the best possible access to cannabis products as our new program rolls out on Monday, March 2.”

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A bill to modify Utah’s medical cannabis law got final approval from the state legislature Thursday.

It’s moving forward with urgency because lawmakers and supporters are trying to get the changes through before the state system goes online in a few days.

For medical cannabis advocates, it’s been a long battle.

But, some say it’s worth it.

“Just having that lifeline, or that hope that we know if he gets into pain we have something to fall back on has been a miracle for us,” said Desiree Hennessy with the Utah Patients Coalition.

Hennessy has been fighting for her son who has multiple disabilities.

She says using medical cannabis to treat the pain has made a huge difference.

“He’s no longer as terrified of his pain as he used to be, and that’s been really wonderful too,” said Hennessy.

The next step is for Utah patients to have access to the product in the state.

That happens in a matter of days.

The Dragonfly Wellness dispensary is expected to open its doors on Monday in Salt Lake City with 13 others to follow across the state.

“It is going to be a phased process where there will be one or two dispensaries at first, and then another one, and another one. Really, the goal for us is by the end of this year to have the whole program very robustly online,” said Connor Boyack with the Libertas Institute.

Senate Bill 121, sponsored by Senator Evan Vickers, is flying through the legislature.

Among other things, it addresses packaging issues and allows those who were legally using, but still prosecuted after Prop 2 passed, to expunge their record.

“So that when the program launches, it can launch on the best footing possible and eliminate some of these little uncertainties or issues that have come up,” said Boyack.

Not all advocates are happy with the latest developments.

“I think on some things we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back,” said Nathan Kizerian.

Kizerian admits there are some good things in the bill, but he’s concerned with the process.

“We need to start talking about transparency. We’ve got people that are secretly invested in cannabis grows, there’s some conflicts of interest,” he said.

Thursday, the bill unanimously passed through a House committee and the full House.

Senator Vickers expects the governor to sign it immediately.


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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. 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...