SALT LAKE CITY — A bill making what were described as technical changes to the Utah Medical Cannabis Act passed in a special legislative session last year was unanimously advanced by a Senate committee Tuesday.
The sponsor of SB161, Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that the changes also add protections for government employees who don't want to participate in a job duty related to medical marijuana.
Escamilla said there can be "no retaliation" against an employee of a local health department or a state agency who makes that choice. She said they may have concerns about work related to a substance that remains illegal under federal law.
Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said he appreciated Escamilla carrying the bill so needed fixes could be made to the sweeping legislation passed in December, after voters approved Proposition 2 legalizing medical marijuana.Comment on this story
Vickers said he anticipated there may be attempts to amend the bill now going to the full Senate "to add significant policy changes," but warned any such efforts would be resisted.
He said there should be no major changes after the "delicate negotiations" that went into the replacement for Proposition 2, backed by a variety of organizations including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah Medical Association.
SB162, Vickers said, is a "good-faith effort to try to find technical things that can be corrected without making major policy changes. That is the theme of this bill and the theme throughout the process."