2 GOP medical cannabis bills pass Utah House despite opposition from Democrats

2 GOP medical cannabis bills pass Utah House despite opposition from Democrats (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) - Two bills related to medical marijuana in Utah passed out of the Utah House of Representatives and now moves on to the Senate.

House Bill 195, known as the "right-to-try" medical cannabis bill would allow terminally ill patients to try medical marijuana.

A companion bill, House Bill 197, would give the state of Utah a monopoly on marijuana cultivation, processing, and sales of medical cannabis.

Both bills, which both now move on to the Senate, are sponsored by Rep. Brad Daw (R-Orem) and Rep. Evan Vickers (R- Cedar City)

That's despite opposition from House Democrats, who say they support a statewide medical marijuana initiative over the Republican H.B. 197.

There have been efforts to get a medical marijuana initiative on the 2018 ballot.

“Don’t be fooled, this is an attack on the ballot initiative that has support from over 76% of Utahns," Rep. Brian King (D- Salt Lake City). "These bills have weak regulatory oversight, restrictive provisions on physician and patient options, and complete government takeover of the market. The legislature is insistent on playing the role of the nanny-state and telling Utahns what is ‘best’ for them, rather than listening to the will of the people," King said.

Conservatives outlets like the Sutherland Institute praised the passage of H.B. 197.

“Like most of Utah, Sutherland Institute looks forward to the day when cannabis-derived compounds can be considered medicine,” Sutherland Institute Vice President Stan Rasmussen said. “Though processes of research, development, testing, and validation continue, it is premature and dangerous to pretend the necessary science is already there when it is not. We commend our state legislators for their continued careful consideration of the many serious issues associated with cannabis in the fulfillment of their charge to develop sound public policy. Balancing consideration of individual circumstances and preferences with the preservation of public health and safety takes time and moves slower than any would prefer – especially in high-stakes matters such as cannabis," Rassmussen said.

“We commend the Utah House of Representatives for passing HB 195 on Friday (allowing terminally ill people the ‘right to try’) and today HB 197, creating strict protocol for the cultivation and processing of cannabis for academic and medical research purposes. We encourage the Utah Senate similarly to approve these measures," Rassmussen said.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has said in the past he believes medical marijuana will be legal someday.