A resolution aimed at making medical marijuana research easier unanimously passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday.
SCR 11 – Concurrent Resolution Urging the Rescheduling of Marijuana, sponsored by Senator Brian Shiozawa (Republican – Cottonwood Heights), urges Congress to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug and encourage researchers to investigate the possible benefits of medical marijuana.
Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) rules. As a result, it’s illegal to possess marijuana or conduct research on it.
Schedule I drugs are defined as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. Schedule II drugs are drugs with “high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Schedule II drugs are Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, Dilaudid, Demerol, OxyContin, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
SCR 11 calls on the University of Utah, Utah Science Technology and Research Economic Development Initiative (USTAR), University of Utah Medical School, Huntsman Cancer, Institute, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and other institutions to collaborate on determining the feasibility of a study of the medical benefits of marijuana. They are to report their findings to the Business and Labor, Economic Development, and Health and Human Services interim committees or other groups as appropriate or feasible.
There are two bills currently pending in the Legislature that concern medical marijuana. The first, SB 89 – Medical Cannabidiol Amendments, is sponsored by Senator Evan Vickers (Republican – Cedar City). The second, SB 73 – Medical Cannabis Act, is sponsored by Senator Mark Madsen (Republican – Saratoga Springs). Both are currently awaiting debate in the Senate.
SB 89 permits the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a marijuana extract, to treat a number of conditions whereas SB 73 allows for the less processed, whole-plant based chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the principal psychoactive constituent in cannabis, to be used in conjunction with CBD.
Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, believes the resolution is the best possible way the state can move forward. “This is the answer. I was so grateful when I saw this resolution because it’s the only thing that makes sense at all. This is something that needs to be studied. It is something that, obviously, there’s going to be good things, a lot of good things that will come from this. People will be helped, but they’ll be helped properly.”
Michelle McOmber, CEO of the Utah Medical Association, praised Shiozawa for bringing about the resolution. “We think that his thoughtful approach to this is absolutely the appropriate approach to bringing this forward and looking at it in a way that we can put some science behind it, that we can actually look at the studies out there, that we can study them in the way that is appropriate and make some decisions based on science, not based on just emotion.”
The resolution now heads to the full Senate.