Governor signs law allowing terminal patients ‘right to try’ medical marijuana

In this file photo, Gov. Gary Herbert speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 5, 2015 | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Terminally ill patients Utah now have a “right to try” medical marijuana under a new law signed by Gov. Gary Herbert.

House Bill 195, Medical Cannabis Policy, was among the 46 bills Herbert signed Wednesday.

In this file photo, marijuana plants are for sale at Harborside marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif., Jan. 1, 2018 | Associated Press photo by Mathew Sumner, St. George News

HB 195, authored by Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem and co-sponsored by Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, allows physicians to recommend medical marijuana to terminally ill patients with an estimated six months or less to live.

Access to medical marijuana will be limited to 25 terminal patients at any one time.

Restricting how many patients can have access to medical marijuana will help curtail the risk of any one physician becoming what one lawmaker called a “candy doctor” who could hand out patient recommendations on a regular basis.

Read more: Legislature sends marijuana-related bills to governor’s desk

A companion bill, HB 197, also authored by Daw, will allow Utah to grow whole-plant marijuana for medical research. While this bill has yet to be signed by the governor, Fox 13 News reports the governor’s office expects Herbert to sign it as well.

House Bill 195’s becoming law dips Utah’s toe just a little more into the pond of medical marijuana legalization. The first step was made in 2014 with the approval of a law allowing approved individuals to use cannabidoil, or CBD oil, a hemp extract, to treat epilepsy.

Today, CBD oils are sold on store shelves across Utah and are the subject of a bill authored by Vickers that passed the Legislature and also awaits the governor’s signature.

In this file photo, Utah resident Doug Rice administers the CBD oil Haleigh’s Hope, a cannabis compound used by his daughter Ashley at their home in West Jordan, Utah, June 6, 2017 | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

Read more: Bill regulating cannabidiol oil products, other marijuana-related bills roll on

Utah lawmakers have been reluctant to pass medical marijuana-related laws in the past due to worries of it eventually leading to a demand for legal recreational use. They also feared what the federal government may do as marijuana remains classified as a schedule I drug under the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Read more: Sessions ends policy that let legal marijuana trade grow

This year’s legislative session proved different as small steps were made toward limited legalized use of medical marijuana for terminal patients and medical research.

Daw’s bill has been criticized as not going far enough to give access to patients who aren’t terminal. That criticism has largely come from the supporters of a ballot initiative seeking to put the question of legalized medical marijuana before the voters.

Read more: Utah voters could decide in 2018 whether to legalize medical marijuana

The Utah Patients Coalition, the group behind the ballot initiative, claims to have gathered over 150,000 signatures in support of the ballot initiative.

HB 195, which passed 19-3 in the Senate and 40-26 in the House, saw the following votes from Southern Utah’s legislators:

  • For: Sens. Vickers and Don Ipson and Reps. Brad Last, Michael Noel and V. Lowry Snow.
  • Against: Reps. Merrill Nelson and John Westwood.
  • Absent or not voting: Sens. David Hinkins, Ralph Okerlund and Rep. Walt Brooks. (Hinkins had voted for the bill on second reading, prior to final vote.) House District 62 was not represented in light of Jon Stanard’s resignation.

Contact legislators

Read more: See all St. George News reports on Utah Legislature 2018 issues

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Death Valley March 22, 2018 at 6:25 am

    Utah = still a joke when it comes to cannabis. This “law” completely misses the point. This state is firmly stuck in the 1950’s and still watching reruns of Reefer Madness.

    • DRT March 22, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      That certainly is not surprising, when you consider the idiocy shown by their alcoholic beverage laws.

  • PlanetU March 22, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    How about BEFORE they become terminally ill?

  • Travis March 24, 2018 at 8:22 am

    We’re going to need medical pot in Utah after they pollute the Paria, Virgin and Colorado Rivers while drilling for oil and gas. Do you have medical insurance? Trumpcare?

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