Utah: Lawmakers Replace Voter-Initiated Medical Cannabis Law

UTAH: Lawmakers voted in a special legislative session on Monday to replace the state’s voter-initiated medical cannabis access program. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill, House Bill 3001, into law that same day. The new law, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, takes immediate effect.

The former law, Proposition 2, was approved by 53 percent of voters on November 6.

Legislators announced in October their intent to rewrite the legislation, prior to its passage, after meetings with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – who opposed the bill – and other groups, including some backers of the original bill. However, other proponents of Proposition 2, including the group TRUCE(Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), have announced their intent to file a lawsuit in response to lawmakers’ decision to amend the law.

The replacement legislation significantly differs from the language that was approved by the voters. It eliminates patients’ option to home cultivate cannabis, it prohibits the dispensing of either processed flower or edible cannabis products (oils, capsules, or topicals are permitted), it narrows the list of qualifying conditions, and it significantly reduces the total number of permissible state-licensed dispensaries, among other changes.

Members of the House voted 60 to 13 in favor of the new language. Members of the Senate voted 22 to 4. The bill required two-thirds support from both chambers in order to become law.

The vote to rewrite the voter-initiated law broke down largely along party lines, with Republican lawmakers deciding in favor of the change and Democratic members largely voting ‘present.’ An alternative measure backed by members of the Democratic Caucus that sought to make only minor administrative changes to the initiative was defeated.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500, or visit Utah NORML or TRUCE Utah.


Utah: Medical Access Initiative Certified For November Ballot

UTAH: State regulators have certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced last week that proponents had gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters – far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

Both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll.

Voters in Oklahoma will also decide on a medical access initiative in a special election on Tuesday, June 26. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788, according to polling data reported last week.

Voters in two other states – Michigan and Missouri – will also decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform initiatives. Recent polling from those states finds majority public support for all three measures.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Legalizing Weed: Key Players In Utah’s Legalization Of Industrial Hemp Farming

UTAH: For decades, it was illegal to grow hemp in the United States because of the plant’s relationship to the marijuana drug. However, hemp is not itself a drug, and many states, including Utah, have begun legalizing hemp production because of the benefits offered to farmers, manufacturers, and the economy. 

The federal government removed some of the restrictions on industrial hemp farming with the 2014 Farm Bill. Before that several states had already legalized it, either with immediate plans to begin production, or to be ready when the government lifted its ban. 

The following people participated in the effort to legalize hemp in Utah.

1. State Rep. Gage Froerer
State Rep. Gage Froerer was the chief sponsor of House Bill 105, which made several changes to how the state treats hemp and cannabis. The bill makes it lawful for the state’s Department of Agriculture and for colleges and universities to grow hemp for the purposes of research or as an agricultural crop.

Hemp And The Woolly Mammoth’s Hair Piece

UTAH:  I think we found the most original use for hemp yet. Billie and I were wandering the Dinosaur Garden outside the Field House of Natural History in Vernal, Utah. The museum is a dinosaur-lover’s dream, and the outside garden is stocked with colorful, life-sized reproductions of various plant- and meat-eating dinos, with one exception: A wooly mammoth, the large, extinct elephant ancestor.

Looming over us with its huge tusks, friendly eyes and thick, dark coat, the only warm-blooded representative in the garden immediately got our full attention. Most impressive was the coat, which was thick and shaggy and black and spread over and around the body and huge curved tusks.

Wooly mammoths’ thick outer hair was called the “guard coat.” And this mammoth’s guard-coat hair piece was made from hemp.

Why Medical Marijuana Smoking Bans Are Bad For Patients

UTAH:  State lawmakers are moving ahead with legislative efforts to allow for the limited use of medical ‘cannabis’ while simultaneously forbidding anyone from either inhaling the herb or possessing its flowers

Many medical marijuana advocates cheered the news this week that members of the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to legislation to permit the use of medical cannabis preparations for qualified patients. No doubt the vote marked a significant change in attitude for lawmakers in the heavily Mormon state. But while the vote marked a ‘first’ for Utah, lawmakers’ decision to prohibit patients from legally possessing, inhaling, or vaporizing actual cannabis is part of a growing, and problematic, national trend.

While no state legislature has approved a law permitting medi-pot patients to grow their own medicine since New Jersey lawmakers banned the practice in 2012, few if any politicians sought to altogether prohibit patients from accessing cannabis flowers (where the majority of pot’s therapeutically active constituents are located) until Minnesota lawmakers addressed the issue last year. In a legislative compromise to appease the state’s Governor, House and Senate lawmakers agreed to amended legislation that, for the first time, mandated patients only be permitted to possess cannabis in non-smoked preparations such as pills or extracted oils (the latter of which could arguably still be vaporized). One month later, New York lawmakers enacted similar legislation restricting the dispensing of medical cannabis only to non-smokeable formulations. And so the trend began.

Proposed Rules On University Researchers’ Hemp Cultivation May Go Too Far, Utah Lawmaker Says

UTAH:  Police would have “complete and unrestricted access” to industrial hemp seeds and plants grown on Utah university campuses for research purposes under proposed rules to implement a new state law.

The administrative rules, which would regulate the implementation of the Industrial Hemp Research Act, “have gone beyond any legislative intent beyond the language, the ink on the paper” of HB105, said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs.

“I don’t think there’s any provision for that kind of law enforcement involvement in this in the language of the bill,” Madsen told the Utah Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee on Wednesday.

The research act was part of a high-profile bill that established a process and carved out an exemption from prosecution for people who possess and administer hemp extract as a means to control “intractable epilepsy.” The extract has primarily been used in children.


Moms’ Marijuana-For-Kids Campaign Seeks To Quiet Epilepsy

UTAH:  April Sintz is fighting to loosen marijuana laws for her 7-year-old epileptic son. She is one of hundreds of moms nationwide who have opened a new front in the drive to expand the drug’s legal use.

While supplying pot to a child is bound to raise eyebrows, Sintz said early evidence on the marijuana extract cannabidiol, also known as CBD, suggests it’s a potent anticonvulsant, with few dangerous side effects. That could help save the life of her son, Isaac, who has 30 seizures or so a day and suffers with kidney damage from his present treatments, she said.

“We’re probably going to lose our son to his kidneys or his seizures,” said Sintz, who lives in South Jordan, Utah, near Salt Lake City, and whose son had his first seizure at 6 months old. “We can’t find a medication to safely control those seizures, which is why we’re so excited for this oil.”



Coming Soon To Utah Liquor Stores: Cannabis Oils?

UTAH:  A state senator who co-sponsored the bill legalizing the possession of cannabis extracts to treat children with epilepsy is considering ways to make it easier for Utah parents to get the oils, including potentially making them available at state liquor stores.

Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, says the problem parents face now is that it is still technically illegal under federal law for them to possess or transport the oils, which are extracts from marijuana plants high in a chemical called cannabidiol (CBD) but with almost all of the psychotropic ingredient THC removed.

 Many Utah parents plan to drive to — or import the oils from — neighboring Colorado.

The federal government has stated it doesn’t plan to crack down on those complying with state law. But, Urquhart says, rather than expose these parents to possible action by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, he would consider having the state import the oils and make them available at liquor stores across Utah.


Utah Lawmakers Send Cannabis-Oil Bill To The House

UTAH:  A bill that would give Utah children with epilepsy access to a non-intoxicating, seizure-stopping cannabis oil cleared its first legislative hurdle Friday.

The House Law Enforcement Committee voted 8-2 to send a substitute version of HB105 to the House floor, despite lawmakers’ concerns that the oil hasn’t been tested by the Food and Drug Administration to know if it’s safe or works.

“This is a really tough decision … I understand your plight. I would do anything to help my child,” said Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, to the more than half-dozen parents who testified in favor of the bill. “But this is a bad position for the Legislature to be in, to overrule doctors and people more qualified than we are.”