Time is Running Out for Medical Marijuana Legislation

Utah State Capitol 14It was a big win for Sen. Mark Madsen to get his medical marijuana bill out of the Senate this session.

But the battle is far from over.

Now the Utah House must consider the reworked SB73, now in its 2nd substitute.

House Rules Committee Chairman Mike Noel tells UtahPolicy the bill will not be held, but can’t be assigned to the House Health and Human Services Standing Committee (where it will be heard along with Sen. Evan Vickers much more restrictive alternative) until an update fiscal note is compiled.

There are eight days left in the 2016 general session.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told UtahPolicy Monday evening that he won’t guarantee SB73 will make it out of H/HS for a full vote in the 75-member House.

The four medical doctors in the House – Republicans Stewart Barlow, R-Fruit Heights; Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine; Ed Redd, R-Logan; and Raymond Ward, R-Bountiful – all sit on the 12-member House Health and Human Services Committee.

“They are the most qualified to educate us” – the rest of the House – “on the scientific issues of medical marijuana,” said Hughes.

He said the four, while Republicans, are “of a different make-up philosophically/politically,” and so no doubt will not be speaking from the same mind-frame.

Any political body is not the “best source” to make medical decisions, said Hughes, who himself is an apartment developer-landlord.

“I take some comfort that these four, and the whole committee, will be taking (public) comments and debate,” said Hughes.

“I don’t promise a (House) vote; I do promise a good committee hearing. For now, (SB73’s) fate is there” – in the committee.

“I look forward to their input,” said Hughes.

You can see the committee membership here. The next scheduled H/HS meeting is Wednesday morning – but SB73 is still in House Rules awaiting an updated fiscal note.

Should SB73 make it out of the standing committee and to the floor, the floor sponsor is 10-year veteran Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, one of the most moderate Republicans in the House, who generally carries real estate/land issues and liquor reform bills.