Utah Considers Expanding Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Patient Responds to Utah Medical Association

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Last year, many were surprised to learn that ultra-conservative Utah passed marijuana reform. Although it was just a CBD-only form of medical marijuana, it was still a huge step for the state where decades-old perceptions still linger. A little more than a year later, one state senator has introduced a new bill that would greatly expand Utah’s limited medical marijuana program.

Introduced by Republican State Sen. Mark Madsen, the bill would amend the state’s existing medical marijuana law to allow non-smokeable forms of high-THC marijuana and expand the program to people with the following conditions: AIDS, cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, cachexia, muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea and pain.

In an effort to curb abuse, patients would have to go to a medical specialist to get a recommendation instead of a general practice doctor. The bill also establishes rules and regulations for marijuana cultivators and dispensaries. There is no provision in the bill for home cultivation.

Interestingly enough, although he is the bill’s sponsor, Madsen is not what you would call a marijuana guy. At 51 years old, Madsen is a conservative father of five that describes his first priorities as faith and family. As a highly devout Mormon, he is also not a person that has many vices.

According to NPR Utah, what prompted Madsen to put his support behind medical marijuana was a recent trip to neighboring Colorado. Madsen’s doctor had recommended that he make the trip in order to use a marijuana treatment for his back pain. Once Madsen had a couple of drags off a marijuana e-cigarette and a ganja gummy bear, his eyes were opened.

Madsen told The Desert Sun, “after a couple of hours, I sat there wondering to myself: Is this what all this fuss is about?” Isn’t it amazing how one’s perception on marijuana can change after trying it? It is almost as if the American people have been misled about marijuana’s potential.

Unfortunately, while Madsen has seen the light, many of his colleagues have not. House Speaker Greg Hughes told The Desert Sun that he is “not nuts about” medical marijuana. Then, yesterday, Hughes told reporters, “What I worry is, we’re not really talking about medical care, we’re just trying potentially to legalize marijuana. I’m not interested in going in that direction.”

Despite regurgitated lines from string-pulling politicians, Madsen is confident that his bill will pass the Senate and is optimistic about its chances in the House, which is surprising. Then again, most people were surprised by Alaska legalizing recreational marijuana. Let’s not count Utah out yet; if marijuana reform has taught us anything, it’s that no state is off the table.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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