SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - We began this legislative session with two medical marijuana bills and we're ending it with none. Bringing an end to the discussion on medical marijuana for this legislative session.
Senate Bill 73, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen (R) - Distrcit 13, would have allowed for full plant based medical marijuana in the state of Utah. That bill died earlier this week. Legislators were anticipated to pick up Senate Bill 89, the cannabidiol use bill, sponsored by Representative Brad Daw (R) - District 60 and Senator Evan Vickers (R) - District 28, but it died before it hit the floor. Rep. Daw telling ABC4 News, "it's on life support and we're getting ready to pull the plug." Rep. Daw said the reason it failed was because it had run out of funding.
"You can't pass a bill unless you have the money to fund it. Because Senate Bill 89 got to be so late in the session the funding all dried up. All the money was allocated to other projects," says Daw.
Representative Daw says the bill would have required $800,000 in start-up cash. But, the Libertas Institute doesn't buy that argument, saying it's a cover up for the votes the bill couldn't rack up.
"He stole the language from Senate Bill 73 for funding and we didn't have a funding issue in our bill. He could've gotten the money he needed by having a self sustaining operation. So, this wasn't an issue of funding this was an issue of politics. He was trying to very hastily cobble together a bill in the last 24 hours of the session and couldn't get it done," said Connor Boyack, President of Libertas Institute.
The Libertas Institute says SB 89 was the wrong bill for Utahns and are glad to see it didn't make it through. They say it would have laid out a precedent to make reform on this issue difficult in the future. They say the bill had neither the votes or support from patients or advocates. Advocates, like Adam Legg, whose girlfriend passed away three years ago from a medical condition. He says she would have benefited from medical marijuana.
"It's basic fact of liberty. I think they should have access to this kind of thing and I think maybe if she had been able to legally access this it might have helped her health and prolonged her life," he says.
Throughout this session we've heard many stories like Adam's of loved ones trying to gain access to medical marijuana. Now their work starts all over as no resolution on this topic made it past this legislative session.
Advocates for medical marijuana say they want the discussion to take place in the public arena where they say polls have shown consistently that Utahns are overwhelmingly in support of medical marijuana. They will now begin to prepare a ballot initiative to get the issue out to Utahns to have voters decide on the issue as early as 2018.
Representative Daw says he will reintroduce his cannabidiol bill in the next legislative session.
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