SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers are expected to meet Monday night to consider changes to the state’s medical marijuana law, an issue that has faced fierce criticism from people on both sides of the debate.
The proposed changes include scrapping plans for an unusual state-run dispensary system and adopting protections for patients who are concerned they could be prosecuted for drug crimes.
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, has proposed increasing the number of private dispensaries from seven to 12.
Lawmakers are also expected to discuss issues with and land use ordinances that could prevent growers from having medical marijuana ready for patients by next year.
During a tense public hearing last week, medical marijuana advocates and conservative groups sparred over amendments regarding the distribution and prosecution of drug crimes.
Members of the conservative group Utah Eagle Forum lamented the loss of the state-run dispensary system, while some medical marijuana advocates raised concern that 12 private dispensaries wouldn’t be enough to meet growing patient demand.