Medical marijuana bill SB89 evaporates as session winds down

Friday , March 11, 2016 - 8:54 AM6 comments

CATHY MCKITRICK, Standard-Examiner Staff

SALT LAKE CITY – Even though the last surviving medical marijuana bill expired in the waning hours of Utah’s 2016 legislative session, exhausted stakeholders held hope for the future and vowed to stay in the fight.

Kaysville resident Christine Stenquist, president of a patients advocacy group called TRUCE, battled another migraine at the Capitol Thursday night, an attack that set in after the House GOP caucus convened for lunch and discussed SB89, the more restrictive medical cannabis bill that Rep. Brad Daw hoped to present to the full House later that afternoon.

By evening, Daw knew that SB89 would not get funded. He said his best hope would be to “bring a shadow of it up” on the House floor, but the chance of doing that was “slim to none.”

Stenquist, who has battled debilitating effects of a brain tumor for two decades, worked tirelessly this year on SB73, a whole plant medical marijuana bill sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs and Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville. That bill failed to clear a House committee Monday in a 4-8 vote while the Vickers-Daw measure, SB89, advanced 7-5.

By Thursday noon, Daw had a significant revision to SB89 he thought might garner enough House votes to pass. That option, presented to the House GOP caucus over lunch, included a 1:1 ratio of cannabinoids (CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for patients with qualifying diseases, and patients under 18 years of age with intractable or terminal illnesses could get approval from their pediatricians to try cannabis in up to a 1:1 ratio. Daw’s revision would also expand the number of grow facilities from two to four, with two designated processing facilities and five dispensaries to serve the state.

Stenquist, who discovered medical cannabis in 2013 and found relief, accepted Thursday’s outcome – no access to legal medical marijuana in Utah yet – with remarkable grace.

“This is public policy we’re talking about, and we need to take the time to understand what that means,” Stenquist said. “I think we made progress, we all did. I think the whole state made a lot of progress.”

And she promises to continue the conversation, noting that patient advocates intend to file a ballot initiative April 16 for the 2018 general election, and some plan to file for legislative seats this coming week. 

“There are too many young voters coming to the polls who are looking at this, saying ’I understand it and it appeals to me.’ The issue will ignite them politically,” Stenquist said. “And when you get that many young voters out, things will change politically.”

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.





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