Proposed marijuana law would outline patient access, regulate store-bought cannabidiol oil

Utah legislators will consider various marijuana-related policy bills during its 2018 general session. Foreground photo shows the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, undated | Image composite, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – While an initiative to put the question of medical marijuana legalization on the 2018 ballot moves forward, Utah lawmakers are also working on marijuana policy bills for the upcoming legislative session.

Among the legislators proposing marijuana-related bills is Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City.

While visiting St. George Wednesday for a presentation regarding the impacts of marijuana use and the ballot initiative, Vickers spoke to St. George News about his bill, which has two parts. One part involves regulating hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD oil, currently being sold on store shelves, while the other part addresses how patients can access medical marijuana.

Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, speaks at an event at the Southwest Behavioral Center concerning the impacts of marijuana use and the 2018 medical marijuana ballot. Vickers does not support the initiative for various reasons, St. George, Utah, Jan. 17, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Testing store-bought CBD

CBD is a chemical derived from the marijuana plant, and unlike THC it does not contain a psychoactive component. THC is the part that produces a “high,” or measure of impairment in users, while CBD is touted for its plethora of medical benefits, such as helping to reduce seizures in people with epilepsy.

CBD-based oils were legalized in Utah through 2014 legislation allowing use for children and adults with epilepsy.

Vickers said he was surprised when he started seeing CDB oil being sold in drug stores, supermarkets, smoke shops and other businesses.

“I called the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and asked, ‘Is this legal?’” Vickers said. “They said, ‘Technically no, it’s still a class (or schedule) I narcotic, but quite frankly we’re focused on THC, not CBD.'”

A problem that arose in Utah last year with store-bought CBD involved people falling ill after taking it due to substances labeled CBD actually being something else.

The instances Vickers referred to were confirmed by Barbara Crouch, executive director of the Utah Poison Control Center.

We have been involved in a series of cases where people fell ill after taking what they thought was CBD,” Crouch said, adding that the effects they experienced were “not at all consistent with CBD.”

Instead of CBD oil, the samples the center tested were found to contain a synthetic-THC, more popularly known as “spice.” In addition to physical symptoms, Crouch said, the spice compound also triggered hallucinations for some.

These incidents primarily occurred in northern Utah between November and December, she said.

This has prompted Vickers to draft legislation that would allow the state to test the CBD oils in order to confirm they are what they claim to be.

It doesn’t make it legal, technically, but it protects the public,” Vickers said.

Outlining how medical marijuana gets to patients

The second component of Vickers’ bill addresses how patients will be able to access medical marijuana.

“One of the troubling aspects to medical marijuana has always been: How to you get it to the patients?” Vickers said. “In what form and professional guidance do you give the patient? Well, everybody’s kind of agreed it needs to go through a physician.”

The bill would establish guidelines related to marijuana dosing for prescriptions, something the state currently lacks.

“There’s no guidance, there’s no counseling,” Vickers said. “If it’s a medicine, treat it like a medicine. So let’s put it in medicinal dosage form.”

The bill would also have the state asking the DEA for a waiver allowing Utah to control the growth and production of marijuana into a medicinal dosage form. The product itself would be allowed for sale through pharmacies that obtain the proper state licensing.

Vickers, a pharmacist himself, said his own pharmacies would not sell the product if the bill were passed. He cited a potential conflict of interest due to being the bill’s author.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, is also working on a trio of marijuana-related bills.

One bill would allow hemp, a low-THC strain of marijuana, to be grown for commercial applications. Another bill would give terminal patients the “right to try” medical marijuana-derived medicines. A third bill would allow the state to grow marijuana for research purposes.

The 2018 legislative session starts Monday and runs through March 8.

Read more: See all St. George News stories related to Utah’s 2018 Legislative session

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • high5 January 20, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Let’s Propose “Decriminalize It”, it’s a God Given Plant for hells sake! And it’s everywhere anytime , available for Madicinal Use I’m Any Town In The Country ! The research has been Done!
    We aren’t paying you Pencil Heads to Think!
    Do what We The People Say or your Elected Out! Period! You Ploititins are So Out Of Touch On This . Free The Plant!! Yes it’s a Frikin PLANT!!!!!!!

  • LocalTourist January 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    This law is nuttier than the fruitcake i just threw out.
    Other than samples, doctors do not dispense medication. Plus, cannabis is a Schedule 1 substance, so any doctor dispensing it is in violation of the very law that gives them permission to dispense in the first place.

    And Vickers wants to test a substance still illegal under Utah law. Derp.
    Want to know how to resolve the whole purity issue? LEGALIZE it all. No one will be buying tainted crap from some black market vendor when they can get decent, real cannabis from a dispensary. The oil we buy for our child in Colorado is lab tested for purity and cleanliness.
    Don’t believe me about people going to a dispensary? Drive to Mesquite. Out of 44 cars in the parking lot last weekend, 41 had Utah plates. People already trust legal dispensaries more than their old Hurricane dealer.

    • HerePliggyWiggy January 21, 2018 at 10:36 am

      And if you go down the road to Lee’s Discount Liquor you’ll find a lot of those same vehicles. Sorta like one-stop-shopping.

  • Danny January 20, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Whether it’s medical use or recreational use, cannabis appears to be having an impact on the rates of opioid abuse.

  • NickDanger January 20, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    I can’t believe we pay lawmakers to do this. Here’s a tip, Mr. Vickers – no one is interested in your opinion about marijuana. The people know everything they need to know about marijuana – enough to realize that government criminalization of it is a scam. Legalize it and stop wasting people’s time, ruining lives, and virtue-signaling to the “religious fanatic” voting bloc.

  • Jamie January 27, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Good point “localtourist”. Does this senator not realize that without revising the Controlled Substance Act to raise marijuana (a psychedelic) to at least a schedule 2 classification, there is literally no way for a physician to legally prescribe the drug. And considering that Doctors are governed by a medical board, and the revision of such a statute would need approval from not only the FDA but also the state medical board, maybe our senators could get the ball rolling on actually changing the federal mandates rather then rallying voters to approve something that would be illegal. It’s one thing to trust a Dr. whose degree focuses on chemistry or biology, but botany and horticulture are not typically a physicians forte. Just because Aspertame is listed by the library of Congress as a weapon of mass destruction doesn’t mean it’s not still found in dietary drinks and no carb candy. Treat the industry like big tobacco, sell it behind the counter with ID requirements and no advertising. If you want you can even tax the **** out of the consumers, like when Utah almost doubled the price of cigarettes overnight over a decade ago. It’s obvious to me that the farmers cultivating this plant are essentially just that-farmers…who first and foremost should be the ones held to the highest standards and regulations. If it is legalized I’d be sure to keep track of pot related dui’s as well as any raise in driver impaired road violations resulting in accident or property damage, and then change current statutes accordingly— since let’s be honest, the only thing that I care about is the safety of my fellow Utahns, who already have a hard enough time on the roads?

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