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Do Federal Laws Hinder Utah's Medical Marijuana Options?

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In his monthly press conference on Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert urged cautious support of exploring the legalization of medical marijuana in Utah.

The two-term Republican speculated that most Utahns support the idea of medicinal uses for the plant.

“The concept of having medical marijuana is one I think most people think makes some sense. If there is a medicine out there that will help alleviate pain and conditions and health concerns for people, if there is a medicine out there that will do that, we ought to see if we can embrace it,” Herbert said. “There’s a right way to do that, there’s a process we need to go through. We need to make sure it’s based on science, that we understand that we can control the substance and its dispension.”

Supporters of legalization gathered at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda a week ago to encourage lawmakers to consider allowing the drug. During Thursday’s press conference, Herbert urged the federal government to change the laws concerning medical marijuana.

“I’m concerned about the lack of federal involvement, really. I don’t think it’s good policy for us to have laws in the different states that allow the use of marijuana—whether it’s medical or recreational use—and then have the federal government turn a blind eye to the violation of federal law,” he said. “I think they need to, in fact, be engaged if there’s a time to change the law, particularly if we really want to have research being done and find out if there is really a good medical purpose for marijuana. The federal government needs to change the law.”

Last October, two bills regarding the medical use of marijuana were presented to a legislative committee.