As medical marijuana programs continue to spread throughout the US, Utah took baby steps this week. Gov. Gary Hebert signed a bill that allows terminally ill patients access to medical cannabis.
It’s not an overwhelming victory for patients, but it’s a start. “This is … a very small toe in the water,” said Rep. Brad Daw, the Orem Republican who sponsored HB195. “Other states have gone vastly further down the road than we have,” Daw added.
Indeed, many legalization supporters said the legislation does not do enough to help patients. According to a report in the Deseret News:
Advocates from Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education opposed the bill, saying it was too restrictive in the forms of marijuana it approved, that it was unwise to limit the number of terminally ill patients a doctor can make recommendations for, and was a distraction from efforts at legalization for a much broader group of patients via a ballot initiative.
However, Daw characterized the bill as measured legislation designed to give relief to patients who have “exhausted all other methods of treatment” and are interested in trying the drug for their pain.
The law will allow a physician to recommend — not prescribe — limited forms of cannabis to any patient diagnosed as having “an incurable and irreversible disease” with six months or less to live. The law also restricts the cannabis to be in the form of a tablet, capsule, concentrated oil or patch.
Doctors are not allowed to recommend medical marijuana to more than 25 patients at a time and the patient is allowed a one-month supply at a time.
The bill sailed through the Senate on a 19-3 vote and the House on a 40-26 vote.