SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers balked again this year at joining more than half of all U.S. states and passing a broad medical marijuana law.
Instead, they gave state colleges and other institutions a green light to study the medical impacts of the drug with the hope of having comprehensive data by next year.
The move, however, glossed over the fact that the studies would likely take years, requiring scientists to navigate layers of bureaucracy that can delay and even discourage research.
The slowdown is due to marijuana being considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government, meaning it’s listed along with heroin and peyote among the most dangerous drugs.
No other U.S. state is taking the research-before-legislation route because they realize it is futile, said Jahan Marcu of Americans for Safe Access, a national medical cannabis advocacy group.
“It’s never been shown to work in the past, so we are not confident that it’s going to serve the needs of patients,” he said of the process.
A recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended that the gaps in understanding medical cannabis be filled through a national research agenda.