The Utah Legislature handed a invoice that might defend authorities workers from being discriminated in opposition to for holding a medical marijuana prescription by treating hashish playing cards “like every other prescription.”
Having handed the Senate 26-1 final month, SB46 handed the Home on Wednesday 68-4 and will likely be despatched to Gov. Spencer Cox to be signed into legislation. The invoice requires that state and native governments deal with medical marijuana prescriptions the identical as they deal with prescriptions for different managed substances.
The invoice was created after an Ogden firefighter was suspended with out pay for refusing at hand over his medical hashish prescription. Levi Coleman filed suit against the city and the department last November, arguing that his suspension violated Utah’s Medical Cannabis Act.
Handed in 2018, the act permits docs to prescribe medical marijuana to deal with continual ache and different medical situations. Medical hashish is acknowledged by the state as a legit remedy; the invoice would tackle a “loophole” that places cardholders in danger.
“What this invoice does is it supplies some readability to what the legislative intent was … in recognizing medical hashish as a legit use of hashish for treating sure illnesses equivalent to continual ache,” mentioned Rep. Joel Ferry, R-Brigham Metropolis, who’s the ground sponsor of the invoice.
Rep. Timothy Hawkes, R-Centerville, was one of many 4 to vote in opposition to the invoice, and mentioned he did so for concern that it could give a “get out of jail free card” to individuals who use “road marijuana” recreationally.
Some lawmakers expressed concern that people who use marijuana on the job may keep away from penalties, however Ferry likened hashish to different managed substances like narcotics or different medicine. Even when prescribed, most medicine are solely allowed to be used underneath particular parameters, and workers will be disciplined for misusing or abusing prescribed drugs.
“I’ve some critical considerations that I’ve heard. … It’s unlawful for an officer to be utilizing (marijuana) whereas carrying a firearm and this creates critical challenges for them,” mentioned Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman.
SB46 says nothing about authorities workers who present as much as work intoxicated or excessive, Ferry advised fellow representatives on Wednesday, and governments would nonetheless be free to self-discipline workers who present up underneath the affect.
“We have already got intensive provisions for … folks the place medical hashish interferes with their potential to do their job, that’s all within the legislation,” mentioned Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo. “All this says is, the easy, further act of looking for a card will not be going to topic you to being fired out of your job.”
“I actually recognize these considerations,” Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, mentioned to those that frightened about workers working whereas intoxicated. “But when we needed to go down each managed substance that we have now and speak about abuse, each career and all people can be at instances probably abusing … I imply, I’ll be trustworthy, typically I take two muscle relaxers once I’m solely presupposed to take one, proper?”
“We don’t come down on that,” she continued. “I believe we have to let folks work by this challenge with their physicians and help and supply training and coaching on methods to not abuse substances, as a substitute of simply saying, ‘You may abuse this and so we’re not going to let you might have this drug and have this career.’”
Hawkes additionally expressed concern that marijuana has not been accepted by the Meals and Drug Administration for medical use and continues to be not authorized underneath federal legislation. He referred to as Utah’s earlier legalization of hashish a “authorized pathway that went outdoors of the best way that we usually … validate medicine.”
To Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, the divergence from federal legislation is a function of the invoice, not a bug.
“The founders and the framers appeared to the states to have a look at coverage, to have a look at issues that make sense for his or her folks,” he mentioned.
Quoting U.S. Supreme Courtroom Chief Justice John Roberts, Ivory mentioned, “States are separate and impartial sovereigns, and typically they should act prefer it.”
He mentioned the problem of medical hashish is one the place Utah is appearing in one of the best curiosity of its residents, regardless of the place of the federal authorities.