Medical cannabis in Utah: Status of bills, public invited to hear advocacy panel

The issues of medical marijuana will again come before the Utah Legislature during its 2017 general session. Foreground photo shows the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, undated | Image composite, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – While two bills sit in the Utah Legislature, a group advocating for responsible medicinal use of cannabis will host a panel discussion for the public Tuesday in Washington City exploring ways to get medical use of cannabis legalized in Utah.

Medical marijuana could be studied for the purpose of becoming an alternative to opioid-based medications, as well as for a possible use in helping cancer patients and those with PTSD. | Stock photo, St. George News

Truce, for Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, will present its panel discussion at the Washington City branch of the Washington County Library, 220 N. 300 East. The discussion will run from 5-6:45 p.m. Tuesday, promising cannabis education and discussion.

Representing Truce’s board, president Christine Stenquist, vice president Mindy Vincent and member Doug Rice, will be on the panel to share their stories and to discuss:

  • Where are we now on cannabis?
  • What are our options locally and federally?
  • How do you get involved?

Truce supports open access to cannabis for medical patients. It has been in the news in recent months expressing frustration over the actions, or lack thereof, of Utah legislators concerning marijuana policy.

In a Jan. 27 press conference, lawmakers working on the cannabis issue announced there would be no policy allowing access to medicinal marijuana proposed in the Legislature this year. Instead, they would advance two related bills promoting research and building a framework for day-to-day regulatory infrastructure.

The Cannabinoid Research bill, designated as 2017 House Bill 130, sponsored by Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, passed the Utah House and has made it through second reading in the Senate but sits tabled on third reading calendar, according to the Senate calendar updated Sunday, the final voting step of the Legislature’s process.

Southern Utah’s Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, sponsored the House research bill in the Senate. In a newsletter briefing this week, he wrote:

This bill creates greater opportunity for rigorous, documented, controlled, FDA-standard studies of the effects of cannabis products in certain medical conditions. We are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty concerning medical marijuana regulation on the federal level. We have a new presidential administration that is sending significant messages that they will take a different approach to this policy than the Obama administration did. With this thought in mind, Rep. Daw, Rep. Froerer, Sen. Shiozawa and myself felt it was prudent that we focus our attention on how we can expand research which continues to be lacking and on the policies as to how the state would administer a program if cannabis use is approved at some point in the future.

Truce and others argue that enough research has been done and legislators are needlessly keeping access to medicinal cannabis away from those who could benefit from its use. To this end, they have begun to look into the possibility of taking the question to the voters.

The Cannabinoid Product Act is the policy framework bill, designated as 2017 Senate Bill 211, sponsored by Vickers. It has made it through second reading in the Senate and sits on the third reading calendar as of Saturday, pending final passage before moving to the House.

“The legislature only wants to do a regulatory framework and taxpayer-funded research that is unnecessary and duplicative,” Stenquist said in a statement following the Jan. 27 press conference.

“The path forward continues the victimization of patients in Utah,” she said. “We are surrounded by states that have whole plant cannabis access and our sister state Idaho has decided to move forward on a ballot initiative. It is time for Utah to do the same.”

Profiles of featured panelists

Stenquist, Truce president and co-founder, is a brain tumor patient who was bedridden and housebound for 16 years when she discovered and began using medicinal cannabis. She believes this improved her health, which ultimately led to advocacy work. Stenquist has been advocating for medical cannabis throughout the last four legislative sessions. For her efforts, she was given the Courage award from Americans for Safe Access and the Liberty Cap from Libertas Institute. She has traveled to D.C. to lobby on the federal efforts too.

Vincent, Truce vice president, is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of addiction, mental health and trauma. She is also the executive director of the Utah Harm Reduction Coalition and is a student at University of Utah in its executive masters of public administration program. Vincent lost her sister to a heroin and suboxone overdose.

Rice, Truce board member, is vice president of the Utah Epilepsy Association. Rice is a licensed paramedic and a former fire captain. He is a caregiver to his special needs daughter, Ashley, who suffers from Angleman Syndrome. He is also a cancer survivor himself. Rice is a passionate supporter of patient access and has been a citizen lobbyist for cannabis since 2014. He was also one of the first 50 people in the state to obtain a Utah hemp registry card for his child.

Event details

  • What: Truce panel promoting medical cannabis education and discussion.
  • When: 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Tuesday, March 7.
  • Where: Washington City branch of the Washington County Library, 220 N. 300 East, Washington City.
  • Admission: Free.
  • More information: Truce website.

Ed. note and resources

Cannabinoid Research – 2017 HB 130-S2

Southern Utah’s representatives except for Rep. John Westwood voted for the Cannabinoid Research bill, which passed the House 70-2 with 3 absent or not voting. The bill moved to the Senate where it was considered by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Southern Utah’s Sen. Evan Vickers sits on the committee and voted for the second substitute bill and its favorable recommendation to the Senate. All senators representing Southern Utah voted for the second substitute which passed second reading 27-1 with 1 absent or not voting. The Bill has been on the third reading calendar since Feb. 22 and shows as tabled as of Sunday.

Read the current version of the bill: HB 130-S2 – Cannabinoid Research – 2017

Cannabinoid Product Act – 2017 SB 211-S2 

The Cannabinoid Product Act was introduced in the Senate where it went before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Southern Utah’s Sen. Evan Vickers sits on the committee and voted for its second substitute and subsequent committee recommendation, 5-3. All senators representing Southern Utah voted for the substitute bill on Senate second reading, which passed 27-0 with 2 absent or not voting. The bill now sits on the third reading calendar for final vote before passing to the House for consideration.

Read the current version of the bill:  2017 SB 211-S2 – Cannabinoid Product Act (second substitute)

To contact your legislators:

Ed. note: It was reported that Doug Rice was a retired fire chief. This was reported in error and has been corrected in the body of the text.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

 

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10 Comments

  • utahdiablo March 5, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    This is total BS….We don’t need anymore Drugs of any kind here in Utah, if you really need it? Go to Mesquite Nevada, it’s already legal to buy it there or anywhere else in Nevada…but yes we will be fighting to stop this maddness as we do not want legal Pot here in Utah

    • comments March 5, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      Why don’t you go pop some oxycodones and go read your book of mormon.

    • high5 March 6, 2017 at 7:15 am

      Nope! NOT BS. Come outta Your Hole and see the Truth. Genesis 1:29 Genesis 1:11. You see UTAh DIABOLWWWW– This is a Human Right! Not about a Drug. Its a God Given Plant. A Plant Man!!! Lmao
      So go to Your medicine box and take a legal PILL, God forbid an OPIOID!!!!#geteducated

    • high5 March 6, 2017 at 7:17 am

      And Yes ,THOUSANDS OF Utah dollars are indeed leaving the state to Get their Plant Made Medicine.

    • high5 March 6, 2017 at 7:20 am

      Get It Right DIABLOWWWWW Its Cannabis and has been for thousands of Years, Henery Anslinger Dubbed it Pot when Alcohol Prohibition ended in 1932.. Get Educated before you spout off. make you sound Childish

    • Chris March 6, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      So, you think the government should act as the “nanny state” and dictate to us how to live and what we can put in our bodies? Whatever happened to the notion of personal responsibility that you Republicans like to tout? The “BS” in this debate is the hypocrisy of people like you who claim to want limited government interference in our lives, except when it conforms with your personal morality.

    • LocalTourist March 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Yes, yes we do need it. It often works as a pain reliever where narcotics don’t. If I really need it, I shouldn’t have to drive to another state to get my medication. This is for medical use, NOT recreational. Thousands of patients are in need of this, and these people will be speaking about it Tuesday– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pi3zSMUd80&t=286s
      Feel free to drop by the meeting, and be ready to talk sense instead of spreading falsehoods from your youth years.
      Even Southwest Utah Public Health has been using false information about cannabis. Iy’s time to let some light shine on the subject.

  • darkgoddess March 6, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Well, my two cents here. My husband has rheumatoid arthritis, among other conditions, and suffers from chronic pain which can be debilitating. Usually, he just “toughs it out” because he doesn’t want to start taking opioids like oxycontin or hydrocodone. He knows for a fact that marijuana would help his pain and calm his anxiety from past use. The way the law stands now, if he goes to CO, NV or AZ to get it, bringing it across state lines could get him into trouble, so he currently doesn’t have a medical marijuana card, and he goes without. He’d like to be able to procure some legally here in UT.

    • high5 March 6, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Look for Tristate medical on Craigslist in Genaeral. He Can Get a Card Right here in St George with an appmt. Then all you have to do is take him to Mesquite. He does not have to suffer. and Should Not! the medical card is good in Arizona also. He can consume while in Nevada and then come home, so go one a week and you wont be breaking the Fed Law. Until UTAH Pulls their head out!

      • LocalTourist March 6, 2017 at 3:47 pm

        High5, good info to know! Cannabis does a great job controlling arthritis pain, fibromyalgia, MS, Muscular Dystrophy, Cancer, nausea, even sleep disorders…practically anything.
        If this plant was so bad, they wouldn’t have to spread lies to counter-act it. And humans would not have been using it constantly for thousands of years.

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