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Medical marijuana bill fails Senate by one vote

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(KUTV) A bill to legalize medical marijuana narrowly failed in the Utah Senate.

By a vote of 14 to 15, Senate Bill 259 was defeated late Monday night. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, had passed the Senate last week on a second reading, but it couldn't reach the final hurdle to advance to the House of Representatives.

Madsen's proposal would have made it possible for certain people suffering from serious illnesses to be able to use marijuana in edible form -- not through smoking it -- as a form of treatment.

“Do we believe in the principles of freedom and compassion that underlie this bill?” Madsen said during the debate Monday. “Do we believe that a free people -- in consultation with their physicians -- are capable of making a decision about their personal health care and about what choices they make as to what they’re going to use for their treatment?”

Since introducing the bill, Madsen changed it several times, delaying the date it would take effect as well as making it made it a requirement for people using the drug to carry a card showing they had legal permission to use medical marijuana.

But opposition was strong.

“This floor substitute is not ready for prime time,” said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, referring to the latest version of SB 259 that underwent several revision from the time it was introduced.

“Even if you’re intrigued by the idea of medical marijuana, I’m sure that you would agree with me that we should do it correctly,” added Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, a doctor, said he doesn’t oppose the idea of medical marijuana, but he wasn’t happy with how the bill was rolled out.

“What we haven’t done is engage the very providers -- and including pharmacy -- who are going to be integral in how this bill succeeds and how this is implemented,” Shiozawa said.

Some senators voiced concerns about unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana for medical use. Others said the bill’s latest draft was missing important details.

“I believe it needs to have more study,” said Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, as he cast his vote against SB 259.

In the end, the bill failed. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser cast the deciding vote.

2News reached out to Sen. Madsen to ask if he plans to run the bill next session, but messages left with him were not immediately returned. ______

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