Utah leaders may ask Congress to reclassify marijuana on national drug schedule

Utah leaders may ask congress to reclassify marijuana on national drug schedule

(KUTV) The Utah Senate could urge Congress to change marijuana's status on the national drug schedule, which could open the door to medical marijuana research in Utah.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, sponsored by Sen. Brian Shiozawa (R-Salt Lake), would require the approval of the full legislature and Governor Gary Herbert, but if passed would mark a significant change in tone about marijuana from state leaders.

Marijuana is currently ranked on the DEA's drug schedule as 'Schedule One,' putting in a group of other drugs with 'no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.' Other Schedule One drugs include, Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy.

Shiozawa's resolution would urge congress to reclassify marijuana to 'Schedule Two', making it similar to Vicodin, OxyCotin, and Ritalin.

"It's kind of gotten to be a mess because of inactivity on the executive branch and congress," Shiozawa said. "This is an issue that frankly, we should have dealt with years ago."

The text of the resolution points out that the federal government has already indicated it will not prosecute patients who use medical marijuana in states where there are medical marijuana laws on the books, and cites there may be 'a change in public policy in Utah regarding the issue.'

Currently, state lawmakers are considering two marijuana proposals.

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Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs), is sponsoring Senate Bill 73 which would allow sick patients dealing with a handful of illnesses to ingest cannabis for relief, but only with approval from a licensed physician.

Sen. Evan Vickers (R-Cedar City) is sponsoring Senate Bill 89 which would allow physicians to prescribe medical cannabidoil, a less psychoactive variation of cannabis that is used to treat an array of illnesses and side-effects of certain medical treatments.

Both bills have passed through senate committee's and are currently awaiting debate by the full senate.

Critics of Sen. Madsen's bill say there needs to be more research about medical marijuana before allowing it to be used in Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposed SB 73, citing concerns about the 'unintended consequences' of legalizing marijuana for medical use.'

"Along with others, we have expressed concern about the unintended consequences that may accompany the legalization of medical marijuana. We have expressed opposition to Sen. Madsen's bill because of that concern. We are raising no objection to the other bill that addresses this issue," LDS Church spokesperson Eric Hawkins said.

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The LDS Church also cited the American Medical Association, who have called for more research into the medical effects of Marijuana.

Sen. Shiozawa's resolution to congress addresses the same concern, saying a change for marijuana to 'Schedule Two' would allow for wider research at the University of Utah and the Huntsman Cancer Institute, among other institutions.

Shiozawa presented the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday morning and no opposition was raised. S.C.R. 11 will now go to the Senate floor for consideration.

You can read the text of Sen. Shiozawa's proposal HERE.

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