Lawmakers detail plans for more study of medical marijuana

Utah State CapitolAs first reported by, on Friday lawmakers discussed several medical marijuana bills coming this session that deal with process and study, not legalizing the plant for medical use, four lawmakers dealing with the issue said in a heavily-attended morning press conference.

However, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, a pharmacist, added that his bill would carry a sizeable fiscal note, and he’s not sure fellow lawmakers will be willing to pay the cost this session.

Vickers said his bill is still in the works – has not been introduced – and he declined to say how much it will cost.

Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, said that he would NOT introduce a bill he’s been working on during the interim that would have allowed immediate dispensation of certain marijuana plant agents, which in other states and countries are used to mitigate pain and or nausea in treating a variety of afflictions, including cancer.

“That is on the table, for now,” said Froerer.

UtahPolicy was told that other GOP lawmakers had asked Froerer to step down this session, and thus avoid the kind of emotional battles that took place in the 2016 Legislature when then-Sen. Mark Madsen’s medical marijuana bill brought real concern, even from leaders of the LDS Church.

For now, said Froerer, Vickers, and Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights; and Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem; lawmakers will be asked to set up processes – not policy – on how to handle medical marijuana, should a later Legislature approve its use.

As of Friday, only Daw’s HB130 has been introduced.

Shiozawa, a physician, said next week he will have University of Utah medical researchers available to speak about how quickly they can start the much-needed medical marijuana research. Perhaps before the end of this year, research with “real drugs” from the plant and “real patients,” who need some relief, could begin.

Only specially-federally-licensed researchers can do such trials, and the U has several of them, he added.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute – a leading cancer research center – will be asked to join the effort, said Shiozawa.

Daw said he feels for people suffering from ailments that may be aided by MM. But Utah must do this right, he added. And he hoped that patients and their families might be able to get relief by participating in the upcoming MM trials, which Shiozawa’s bill will authorize.