Utah Lawmakers not to consider legalizing Medical Marijuana this year

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on January 30, 2017.

The Utah Legislature announced it will not say they will not consider legalizing medical marijuana this year, but will instead push bills to fund local research about its potential benefits, and shape how the state would manage marijuana growth and distribution if it is ever approved.

The lawmakers will propose smaller bills that allow for research and lay the groundwork for marijuana infrastructure such as permission for dispensaries, cultivation, etc., aiming to address whether to allow medical marijuana.

"For this year, we are going to take a break" on bills to legalize medical marijuana, Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, said at a Friday news conference. The main reason, he said, is uncertainty whether the new Donald Trump administration will try to enforce federal marijuana laws. The Obama administration looked the other way of medical marijuana as many states allowed dispensaries for marijuana distribution.

Governor Gary Herbert is also backing the decision by state lawmakers to focus on research about the impact of medical marijuana for certain medical conditions instead of moving forward with broad marijuana legalization in the state. For him, the move is the right one because the medical community has concerns and there isn’t enough science to show marijuana is an effective and safe treatment.

Many people argue that that legalization of medical marijuana will allow for much-needed study on dosage, efficacy and driver impairment. Others believe that marijuana legalization, even for medical use, gives marijuana an aura of government sanction and results in more use among adolescents, whose developing brains are most likely to be harmed by heavy use.

Utah already allows a marijuana extract, called cannabidiol, to be used by qualified people suffering from severe epilepsy, as long as they obtain it from other states. The drug has low levels of THC, the hallucinogenic chemical in marijuana.

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