Bill to legalize medical marijuana in Utah tabled

Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) - Patients who use medical marijuana are planning their next steps following a big blow from the Capitol.

Medical marijuana has been a heated debate on Utah's Capitol Hill, but this year will be different.

Representative Gage Froerer was expected to introduce a bill to legalize medical use in our state, but Friday he announced the bill is being tabled.

He says part of the reason is an unclear stance from the Trump administration.

“Looking at what our stakeholders interests are, and looking at trying to make some progress this year I felt that my particular bill, it's in the best interest to not move forward with a policy decision at this time,” said Froerer, (R) Hunstville.

A few bills will still move forward.

Representative Brad Daw and Senator Evan Vickers are taking on infrastructure issues.

“Senator Vickers set the theme early on, he said “if it's a medicine, treat it like medicine.” And so, that's what we want to do. We want to recognize the risk potential,” said Daw, (R) Orem.

Senator Brian Shiozawa will focus on reclassification and research on possible uses.

“I would love to see our great research institutions lead the way into verifiable, double blinded, IRB sanctioned studies that we can use and we can ask these questions and answer them,” said Shiozawa, (R) Salt Lake City.

Advocates say patients need access now.

“The legislature today has proven itself unwilling to help thousands of sick and suffering Utahns around the state who are currently using this, so it's unfortunate. They are classified as criminals. They have a lot of fear of losing their children, their jobs, their firearms,” said Connor Boyack, President of Libertas Institute.

Boyack says patients in other states can get it and Utah is moving too slow.

“Representative Daw today said I don't know if it's fair or unfair, but we owe it to the research community to get it right and to study it. There is no consideration or concern of owing it to the patients,” said Boyack.

Senator Vickers, a pharmacists says he has come to believe medical marijuana does have value. He says he feels for patients, but he says the state must get it right.

“I actually have a lot of empathy, and compassion for that and I understand that, but unfortunately it's not something we can do anything about at this point. We can move forward incrementally the best we can,” said Vickers, (R) Cedar City.

Advocates want to bypass the legislature and have the voters of Utah decide.

A ballot initiative will likely launch this summer. If successful it would be on the ballot in 2018.

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