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Changes to medical marijuana bill may give it new life

Changes to medical marijuana bill may give it new life

(KUTV) The sponsor of one of Utah's controversial medical marijuana bills has made major changes to the bill in an effort to make it more palatable to lawmakers and the leaders of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints.

The Mormon church publicly opposed the bill two weeks ago. Rep. Mark Madsen's bill would allow the use of medical marijuana to help alleviate pain for people with chronic pain, AIDS, ALS, cancer, MS, crones disease and autoimmune disease. Madsen has added several new amendments to his bill that he hopes will alleviate some of the concerns about the bill.

"Every one one of them (the amendments), I think, we're up to eight amendments, and every one of them is to allay concerns," said Madsen. In the original bill, zoning for potential medical marijuana dispensaries where laid out by the state. The substitute language now allows city councils, if they so choose, to forbid dispensaries in their towns. Madsen also added infractions for people who may have violated the medical marijuana bill if it passes, for things like not carrying the medical marijuana card.

Arguably the most important substitution in the bill would forbid the use of the so called whole plant. Instead all prescriptions would have to be provided in extract form.

Madsen says some lawmakers were concerned that if people had access to the plant, they may abuse it.

The extract would include THC, the component that gets a person "high." Madsen says the whole plant, although less specific in it's dosing, is more expensive than extracts, and he fears that could be cost prohibitive for some patients, but he says that is a compromise he is willing to make.

"I don't like taking away the low-cost option for the patients but the whole plant is a sticking point for some folks, so each of these, yes, is designed to hopefully alleviate some of the concerns," said Madsen.

He says he hopes the changes, which will be available Thursday night, will help reduce some of the concerns.

The bill will be debated on the Senate floor Friday morning. Madsen hopes his bill will become law.

"What is Utah going to be known for? Is Utah going to be known as the state that in some cases is compassionate and invites people out of the shadows and embraces them and keeps families together, but in other cases says 'no, you, if you're sick, if you have one of these nine conditions, you stay in the shadows,' " said Madsen.

Follow Chris Jones on Twitter @jonesnews for breaking news, updates and more.

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