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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill giving terminally ill patients access to certain forms of medical cannabis was signed into law this week by Gov. Gary Herbert.
The new law, introduced and debated this year as HB195, allows a physician's recommendation of marijuana to be given to any patient who has been diagnosed as having "an incurable and irreversible disease" and likely has six months or less to live.
Herbert signed it Tuesday.
Forms of marijuana allowed to be recommended under the new law include a tablet, capsule, concentrated oil or patch, so long as the substance comes from a source approved by the state.
The law prohibits doctors from recommending cannabis to more than 25 terminally ill patients "at any given time."
A patient may be recommended up to a one-month supply at a time.
HB195, sponsored by Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, passed the House 40 to 26 and the Senate 19 to 3.
Advocates from Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education opposed the bill, saying it was too restrictive in the forms of marijuana it approved, that it was unwise to limit the number of terminally ill patients a doctor can make recommendations for, and was a distraction from efforts at legalization for a much broader group of patients via a ballot initiative.
However, Daw characterized the bill as measured legislation designed to give relief to patients who have "exhausted all other methods of treatment" and are interested in trying the drug for their pain.
The governor has not yet signed HB197, which asks the Department of Agriculture to contract with a third party to grow marijuana directly in Utah. Daw has said that some of the cannabis grown under the bill, which narrowly survived its vote in the House of Representatives, would be used to assist the terminally ill patients described in HB195.
Also awaiting Herbert's signature is SB130, which authorizes the state to more vigorously regulate the sale of CBD oil and making it possible for patients to buy it from a pharmacy with a doctor's recommendation.
Herbert has signed HB302, which allows those who obtain a license from the state to grow hemp products commercially. Though it is related to the marijuana plant, hemp contains extremely low levels of THC, marijuana's psychoactive component.
The governor has likewise signed HB25, which makes adjustments to a state-appointed body which reviews existing marijuana research, broadening what types of studies that board is asked to examine.