Utah Lawmakers Fight to keep Recreational Cannabis Illegal

Not surprisingly, Utah lawmakers are still standing strong in their fight to keep recreational cannabis illegal while going over the state’s medical marijuana program. 

The bill includes the following: 

  • Remove a mandate that raw flower must be sold in a blister pack.
  • Increase the number of cannabis recommendations qualified medical providers can issue — from 175 to 275 for general practitioners and from 300 to 600 for specialists.
  • Create an expungement option for patients if they have a past marijuana conviction that resulted from possession of cannabis in a form that would now be legal.

That said, Evan Vickers, Senate Majority Leader, Utah, reassured that the state is nowhere near legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and went as far as to assure a colleague in the state’s Senate Health and Human Services Committee, whom I’m guessing was Sen. Allen Christensen: 

“You know how strongly opposed I am to recreational (marijuana), I could never do anything, in my mind, that would lead to any kind of stepping stone toward recreation.”

As a pharmacist, Vickers also said that “designing a functional cannabis program was like ‘tiptoeing through a minefield’ to strike the right balance between control and flexibility.”

The bill, known as SB121, received a unanimous vote in the Senate, with Sen. Christensen saying he only supported it because of its sponsor.  “If you weren’t my trusted pharmacist, I would be a ‘no’ vote on this. But I’m going to take a leap of faith and support you.”

Patients and advocates like Nathan Kizerian (whose wife used cannabis while dying of colon cancer) are fighting this bill. Kizerian’s objections to the bill include “60 day expiration for raw flower,” which means patients could never legally leave the house with expired flower, and concerns over patient privacy/data for those who do use medicinal cannabis. 

“All I can do is attack this program, and I’m doing that on social media.”

The bill is expected to launch in full in March. 

By Wednesday Jones

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