A three-year push to pass some kind of comprehensive medical marijuana law in Utah could come to a head when state lawmakers start their annual session Monday.
Lawmakers have spent the past few years studying the issue and are working on a package of bills to expand access to the drug beyond Utah’s existing program, which only allows those with severe epilepsy to take cannabis extract oil that won’t get them high. But any momentum created by their deep dive into the issue could lose steam amid uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s attorney general pick Jeff Sessions, an Alabama senator who has said he opposes loosening marijuana rules.
House Speaker Greg Hughes said last week that he doesn’t want to keep people from getting relief but he has reservations.
“It’s not a moral objection. It’s that we’re not doctors,” Hughes said.
A closer look at some of the biggest issues lawmakers will face before adjourning at midnight on March 9.
This year, legislators have five bills in the works that would allow people with a number of conditions to take cannabis oil, spur more research on its effects treating certain conditions and set up tight rules about growing and distribution. Christine Stenquist, the executive director of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, one Utah group pushing for a law, said she’s not optimistic that lawmakers will pass broader laws like those in other states. If they don’t, she predicts groups like hers could pursue a ballot initiative to put the issue before voters in 2018. While some lawmakers, including Hughes, have said medical marijuana may be one tool to help fight an opioid addiction crisis, Stenquist doesn’t think enough legislators agree. “I think their concern is that cannabis is just another something that the population will just become addicted to and they’ll have