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Senate passes cannabis bills giving dying patients access and instructing state to grow it

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Senate on Wednesday passed a pair of cannabis bills granting access to dying patients and allowing the state to oversee the growing of it for research purposes.

HB195, which would legalize the use of certain medical cannabis products for a patient defined as terminally ill, passed the Senate with a 19-3 vote.

The bill passed the House of Representatives last month by a 40-26 vote.

HB197, which would allow the Department of Agriculture to oversee full-strength marijuana cultivation in the state to aid in research efforts, passed the Senate 20-5. It passed the House last month by a 38-34 vote.

The sponsor of both bills, Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, has said they are important steps to getting cannabis into the hands of "every legitimate patient," in addition to other legislation he has been involved with.

But Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, or TRUCE, have criticized HB195 as being too restrictive. The group has said HB197 is not based on sound growing science and is designed to draw support away from the broad marijuana legalization ballot initiative expected to go before voters in November.

Lawmakers who have opposed HB197 have also expressed concerns about its contradictions with federal law.

Daw, who says the initiative would create a de facto path to recreational use of marijuana, has characterized his legislation as a better and more methodical, middle ground to getting patients access to the substance. TRUCE and the Utah Patients Coalition campaign say Daw's bills don't demonstrate that he supports the rights of patients.

Daw has also previously said that some of the cannabis grown by the state for research under HB197 would be used for terminally ill patients under the other bill.