- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Medical marijuana will stay a topic of discussion in the Utah Senate after a narrowly passing a vote on Tuesday evening.

Senators voted 16-13 in favor of the proposal from Saratoga Springs Republican Sen. Mark Madsen. If it passes a final vote in the Senate, it will move to the House, where it is expected to face strong opposition.

Madsen’s proposal would allow people with certain medical conditions and a doctor’s prescription to use certain forms of marijuana. It would not allow the drug to be smoked.

Lawmakers delivered passionate arguments for and against Madsen’s proposal on Tuesday.

Opponents of his measure cited questions about its constitutionality and said they hadn’t had enough time to consider the change. Some also raised concern that medical marijuana could lead to increased substance abuse.

“What is the hurry?” asked Sen. Todd Weiler, a Woods Cross Republican. He said he was “offended” by the way Madsen proposed a major change without much discussion with the Department of Public Safety.

“This bill was kept secret. It was hidden from the public, from all the agencies,” said Weiler.

Several Republican lawmakers said they were open to the idea of legalizing medical marijuana but shared Weiler’s concerns. They suggested the Senate research the issue over the summer.

Salt Lake City Democrat Gene Davis called it “laudable and responsible” to have a discussion on the issue “on any day, whether it be the first day or the last day of the session.”

Other supporters shared stories about personal experiences that influenced their decision.

Sen. Karen Mayne, a Democrat from West Valley City, recalled having a conversation with a trusted doctor after her husband’s cancer diagnosis seven years ago.

She said she was struck when the doctor mentioned that marijuana might be helpful to her husband. Although the Maynes decided not to use the drug, she said Tuesday that lawmakers needed to have a similar conversation.

“We’re all grown-ups here,” said Mayne. “I don’t know what the results will be, but I think the conversation needs to be.”


Online: SB 259: https://1.usa.gov/1EQPz4y



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