Restrictive Medical Marijuana Bill Barely Clears Utah Senate

Restrictive Medical Marijuana Bill Barely Clears Utah Senate

A medical marijuana proposal that would legalize edible, vapor, and topical cannabis products was recently approved by Utah state senators on Monday, with lawmakers voting 13-15 to advance the bill.

Senate Bill 73 still has one more regulatory hurdle to clear – 1 more vote in the Senate, which could happen as soon as Wednesday. Senate Bill 89, a competing bill that would permit an extract to treat medical conditions, was passed with an 18-8 Senate vote, and is now on its way to the House for consideration.

Republican Sen. Mark Madsen emotionally called on fellow lawmakers to pass SB73, naming patients who hoped to use medical marijuana to treat their pain. Madsen cried:

“I don’t want to let them down. Please help Doug and Ashley and Adam and Carter, please help hundreds of patients who anxiously await our action today. Don’t let them down!” [1]

The bill is a fairly stripped-down version of its original self. SB73 had been fiercely opposed by Madsen’s Senate colleagues and members of The Church of Latter-day Saints (LDS), or the Mormon Church. The Mormons were – and still are – against medical marijuana products containing THC which could get patients “high.” SB73 bans the smoking of marijuana.

Eventually, the LDS softened their stance on the bill; it didn’t endorse it, but the church applauded restrictions added to the bill late last week. On Monday, Madsen clarified that he’d added controls to make Utah’s medical marijuana bill considerably more restrictive than other states’. [2]

Photograph: The Washington Times / (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

If signed into law, dispensaries would be required to have a clinical, medical appearance (rather than a tie-dyed basement blasting Pink Floyd with a Bob Marley figure at the cash register, I suppose), and all employees would have to wear white lab coats. Edible products and their packaging would not be allowed to resemble candy or be designed in a way that lures youngsters into the vicious grip of hardcore weed addiction. [3]

Photograph: Hemp Beach

Medical marijuana proponents say they may have to yank SB73 out of lawmakers’ hands and instead turn it into a ballot initiative.

Christine Stenquist, a medical marijuana patient and supporter of the ballot initiative frustrated by the close vote, said:

“It’s looking like we may have to. Because we’re not getting much of our voices heard right now.”

Said Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson:

“It isn’t a harmless herb.”

And she’s right. It isn’t.
But if you’re in chronic, excruciating pain, you’re probably not worried about pot making you hungry or forgetful. 

On the other hand, if you’re doped up on opioids all day, you might worry that you’ll overdose and die – something you cannot do with marijuana.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, a Republican, said it best:

“There are 270 opiate overdose deaths in Utah every year. How many do we have from marijuana? Zero.” [4]


[1] Fox 13 Salt Lake City

[2] Denver Post

[3] The Washington Times

[4] Deseret News

The Cannabist


The Washington Times

Hemp Beach