SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah legislators approved changes to the state’s medical marijuana law, an issue that has faced fierce criticism from people on both sides of the debate.
The Utah Senate and House of Representatives voted unanimously Monday evening during a special session to send the proposal to Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk.
The measure would replace plans for an unusual state-run dispensary system with 14 privately run pharmacies and adopt protections for patients who are concerned they could be prosecuted for drug crimes, among other changes.
Utah backtracked from the state-run dispensary after county attorneys expressed concern that such a system would put public employees at risk of being prosecuted under federal drug laws.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, who drafted the law, said his team is “doing everything we can” to improve patient access and have product ready by next March.
Some lawmakers said they still have heartburn over certain aspects of the bill, sharing reservations about product distribution and a looming fear of federal prosecution.
Democratic Sen. Derek Kitchen said he’s concerned patients in rural parts of the state may have to pay more to access marijuana.
Before the House vote, Republican Rep. Keven