SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - Utah lawmakers waiting on the federal government to weigh in on medical marijuana get their answer, but it's not the answer marijuana advocates were hoping for. The Drug Enforcement Administration announcing it will keep marijuana a Schedule 1 substance, meaning it's illegal for any purpose.
Christine Stenquist knows herself the benefit of medical marijuana. For other patients it's a matter of life and death. Stenquist said, "In our group we lost a patient just last week, a 9 year old, and it's really quite heartbreaking to see so many that are suffering and being caught up in the red tape.">
Stenquist was an advocate of Senator Mark Madsen's Medical Cannabis Act which looked to legalize the whole plant. Senate Bill 73 was modified to only include extracts, but it still failed to pass.
Connor Boyack, President of Libertas Institute told Good4Utah, "Unfortunately many legislators during the session favored waiting on the federal government to reschedule, hoping that would happen. We see today that the federal government is refusing to reschedule meanwhile thousands of Utanhs continue to be criminalized even though they are peaceful law-abiding people who just want access to this medicine."
The DEA announced it will not approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes namely because its therapeutic value has not been scientifically proven.
"Any patient who has used cannabis to alleviate their condition and in some cases cure their condition finds that statement completely laughable," said Boyack.
Stenquist said, "There is medicinal value in this plant and to keep perpetuating that there's not is dishonest."
Neither Stenquist nor Boyack are surprised, both point to other incentives the DEA has in keeping marijuana illegal, like the profits from drug seizures and forfeitures. "It's hard to expect the DEA to rule against themselves, and that's effectively what we're asking so..I'm not surprised," said Stenquist.
There was some good news coming out of the DEA decision. The number of places allowed to grow marijuana for research purposes will be expanded. Currently, there is only one federally licensed program that legally grows marijuana for scientific study.
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