By Sutherland Institute
Published on November 27, 2018

On Monday, Nov. 26, the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Interim Committee met to discuss and receive public comment about the proposed Utah Medical Cannabis Act. Prior to the hearing, Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland Institute’s vice president of government affairs, delivered to members of the committee the following statement in support of the proposed legislation to be addressed during the upcoming special legislative session on Monday, Dec. 3.

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Sutherland Institute supports the proposed Utah Medical Cannabis Act – and commends the negotiators from both sides of the issue who have earnestly striven to develop this workable compromise.

Similar to the effective balancing of Utah’s alcohol-control system that assures access while also prioritizing public health and safety, the medical cannabis bill your committee will address assures availability AND limits potential harm to others, including and especially children and non-users. The proposed compromise achieves this balance by means of a regulatory framework that includes control mechanisms, reporting requirements and limited distribution points managed by pharmacists.

Even so, there are still open questions, such as: What is the impact of long-term use of medical cannabis on children?

Though current scientific data suggests THC consumption affects the brain, the long-term impacts of THC-based medicine on children is not known.

For this reason, as you discuss potential amendments to the current draft, one that warrants your careful consideration is the inclusion of rigorous and ongoing study, over an extended period of time, of the effects of medical cannabis on those to whom it is prescribed – especially children and minors.

By whatever means you decide to implement this recommendation – as an amendment to the proposed compromise bill, or by means of separate legislation; via mandatory requirement for receiving a medical cannabis card, or a more voluntary method – we believe the research data generated by such study is essential. It will enable medical professionals and health care providers to assess the impacts of the cannabis use legalized by the proposed bill. And it will equip future legislators to make prudent adjustments in the law if that becomes necessary.

While the prospect of such research may be implicit in the proposed Utah Medical Cannabis Act, we earnestly recommend you make specific provision for the study by amending the bill, or by accompanying legislation, to include explicit language that requires it.
Thank you.

Stan Rasmussen

Vice President, Government Affairs

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