The cannabis debate: How Utah fits into the nationwide conversation
SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns who look at a map showing states that have legalized medical marijuana will see they are now in the minority. Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.
Eight states, including those immediately to Utah’s east and west — Colorado and Nevada — have enacted the most expansive laws, legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
The map makes it look as if it is a simple yes or no question. But the truth is marijuana laws are as diverse as the states that have enacted them.
As Utahns look at medical marijuana legislation, there are dozens of factors to consider. Everything from the number of dispensaries allowed in a state, to the list of conditions for which marijuana is approved could affect the ease of access for patients in need as well as the potential for legally sold cannabis products to find their way into the hands of teenagers.
Five bills related to medical marijuana passed in the Utah Legislature this year. HB302 lets private growers produce industrial hemp, HB197 allows the Utah Department of Agriculture to contract with private growers to produce high THC cannabis for research purposes, HB195 allows terminally ill patients the right to try medical marijuana, HB25 calls for the Cannabinoid Product Board to review expanded cannabinoid products, and SB130 sets up the regulatory framework for businesses to legally sell CBD oil. The governor’s office is currently reviewing the bills.
None of these reforms are as sweeping as the ballot initiative, spearheaded by the Utah Patient’s Coalition, which will make cannabis broadly available, if the initiative acquires enough signatures and Utahns vote yes in the fall.
“There’s no clear gold standard as far as what a medical marijuana law