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From The Hill, Week 5: Lawmakers revise legalization of medical marijuana among other health care issues

From The Hill, Week 5: Lawmakers revise legalization of medical marijuana among other health care issues

The most popular topic circulating the Utah legislative session are bills that concern health and health care. There are 84 bills that deal with specifically health that are being proposed on Capitol Hill. 

While lawmakers enter their fifth week of the general session, some are working to decrease prescription prices while others are attempting to bring an end to the vaping epidemic. 

Another bill gaining attention from Utah voters is a bill that attempts to revise Prop. 2 — which legalized medical marijuana during the midterm election in November 2018.

Lawmakers attempt to “revise” Proposition 2

The proposed bill wants to refine the aspects of the law, making more definite guidelines and definitions. Lawmakers are trying to work fast to get this bill passed, as the first medical marijuana dispensaries will be opening in Utah as early as March. 

The bill makes clear that medical marijuana dispensaries can give out doses of 60-day packages with “use-by” dates inscripted on the package. 

The bill also defines doctors giving out dosing guidelines, rather than specific dosages for patients. Under the legislation, it also increases the number of patients doctors can prescribe to from 175 patients to 275. 

If passed, the bill would protect employees from government-owned businesses, noting that employers can’t restrict employees from using medical marijuana. However, private employers still can. 

The bill passed unanimously in its Senate hearing and will head to the House for consideration. 

Nearing the end of an epidemic?

Above all else, the Utah State Legislature has made one thing clear: lawmakers want to find an end to the increase usage of vaping products. However, they disagree on how to accomplish this. 

Sen. Stuart Adams said that regardless of how they reach a consensus, he want a bill that addresses vaping. Rep. Paul Ray said he might have a solution — whether it’s his bill that passes or another compromise is made. 

Ray’s bill would call for a total ban on vaping throughout the entire state. Ray said that he doesn’t necessarily want to see this bill pass — but it would act as a last resort. 

The representative said that health regulations are needed when it comes to vaping. If lawmakers can’t find a compromise to do that, this bill would take its place in the meantime and ban vaping altogether. 

That way, the bill acts as a safety net and incentive, in a way. If lawmakers can’t settle on an agreement, a ban on the entire practice would ensue. 

If passed, Utah would become the first state to outright ban vaping. 

High schools might implement later start times

Some lawmakers are pushing for later start times for high schools, pointing to science on the effects of brain development of teenagers. 

The sponsor, Suzanne Harrison, said she wants schools to begin the conversation of considering the benefits and consequences of starting later. She says the early start negatively impacts learning performance. 

Harrison said that students already don’t get enough sleep because of homework and extracurricular activities. Combining that with school starting too early, she said this interferes with teenagers’ natural biological rhythm. 

The bill cites research from both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Psychological Association that recommend schools don’t start until 8:30 a.m. The bill points to studies that high school students get the best healthy sleep between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

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Cami Mondeaux
Cami Mondeaux is a junior communication major with a minor in sociology. Cami got her start as a reporter for the City Journals and spent two separate semesters interning at KSL NewsRadio and KUER 90.1 NPR Utah. She now works as a digital content producer for KSL NewsRadio and hopes to one day report on national politics. Cami is excited to bring her skills to The Forum for a second year on staff.

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