Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Keith Johnson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hemp fiber has traditionally been used in rope and textiles. Today hemp oil and seeds are found in beauty and food products such as those pictured here and purchased from Utah retailers. Photographed January 29, 2014.
Utah bill to OK cannabis supplements may be unconstitutional
Medical marijuana » Legislative lawyers warn the bill could be unconstitutional.
First Published Feb 05 2014 05:00 pm • Last Updated Feb 05 2014 10:09 pm

A bill that would allow authorized Utah health consumers to purchase and use "hemp extract" — non-intoxicating cannabis oils — without fear of prosecution would likely be declared unconstitutional if challenged in court, say legislative attorneys.

HB105 defines "hemp extract" as "an extract from a cannabis plant, or a mixture or preparation containing cannabis plant material" comprised of less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol – or THC, the chemical that gives users a high – and that "contains no other psychoactive substance."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, the measure would give the Utah Department of Health authority to issue cards to individuals who, according to a signed doctor’s statement, may benefit from treatment with a hemp extract.

But its definition of "hemp" conflicts with the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, which makes it illegal to possess marijuana without a prescription and defines marijuana as "all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L, whether growing or not," says a constitutional note attached to the bill. The act exempts compounds made from the "mature stalks" or sterilized seeds of the plant.

Froerer sponsored HB105 to give parents of children with epilepsy access to a cannabis oil produced in Colorado shown to have powerful anti-seizure properties — a product made from the whole plant, including its mature flowers or buds.

Makers of the oil say it’s high in cannabidiol (CBD) but so low in THC that it meets international agricultural standards for hemp.

But the process used to make it qualifies the oil as marijuana under federal law, say legislative attorneys.

"An individual possessing or using hemp extract or administering hemp extract to a minor likely could not comply with the provisions of this bill without also violating federal law," they argue. Under the Supremacy Clause it’s highly probable that a court would rule the bill unconstitutional, they said.

HB105 was just released and hasn’t come before a committee.

Utah Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said it presents a tough choice for lawmakers who will have to do some "soul-searching."

story continues below
story continues below

"Utah has been very clear that the legalization of marijuana is not a path we want to take. But when you see real people and real children [suffering] ... and this product seems to be helping those children, you have to think long and hard," she said.

Tribune reporter Robert Gehrke contributed to this report.


Twitter: @KStewart4Trib

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.