Comprehensive medical marijuana legislation advances to, stalls on, Senate floor


Last update: March 10, 2015


Last year, the Utah Legislature passed, and Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law, a proposal allowing individuals suffering from intractable epileptic disorders to legally possess and use CBD oils if certified to do so by their neurologists. This limited new program excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients and may not help those it was meant to protect. Fortunately, Utah lawmakers are starting to stand up for comprehensive medical marijuana reform.

In 2015, State Sen. Mark Madsen introduced S.B. 259, a bill that would have created a comprehensive medical marijuana program to protect registered qualifying medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana medicinally if their doctors recommend it. The bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but fell one vote shy of approval on the Senate floor.

Although it is unfortunate that the bill did not advance, patients, their loved ones, and advocates fighting for compassionate access made significant progress this year, and Sen. Madsen assured members of the press that he will continue fighting for passage of medical marijuana in the future. If you live in Utah, please lend Sen. Madsen a hand by contacting your state representative and senator and asking them to help pass medical marijuana next year.

If you are a patient, a medical professional, a law enforcement official, or a clergy member, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help in future efforts to get sensible marijuana legislation introduced in Utah.

Utah’s current marijuana laws


Under current Utah law, possession of as little as an ounce or less of marijuana can result in a six-month jail sentence. Unfortunately, minority and low-income communities in Utah bear the brunt of this draconian punishment. The ACLU recently found that black Utahans are over three and three-quarters times as likely to get arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors. Write your legislators and ask that they introduce legislation to end Utah’s marijuana prohibition. For more information on Utah’s marijuana laws, please see Dr. Jon Gettman, Ph.D.’s Utah-specific state report.

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