SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Medical marijuana advocates and conservative teams sparred Monday over proposed modifications to Utah’s medical cannabis program throughout a tense, two-hour public listening to.

Utah legislators sought suggestions on modifications to the regulation forward of a particular session subsequent week to approve the revisions.

Amendments relating to the distribution and prosecution of drug crimes drew essentially the most debate amongst individuals on each side of the problem.

“What concerning the individuals out in rural areas? That is who I fear about.”

Tiffiny Malo, mom of two cannabis sufferers

The draft suggests eliminating an uncommon plan for a state-run medical marijuana dispensary system in favor of personal dispensaries.

The choice adopted considerations that state distribution might put public workers vulnerable to prosecution below federal drug legal guidelines.

Medical marijuana advocates raised concern that 12 dispensaries received’t be sufficient to fulfill rising affected person demand.

“Now we have sufferers all over the place now on this state, and so they’re so unfold out … what concerning the individuals out in rural areas? That’s who I fear about,” Tiffiny Malo, a mom of two cannabis sufferers, mentioned.

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative group Utah Eagle Discussion board, lamented that her group agreed to carry off final fall in placing up billboards and operating ads in opposition to the poll initiative after she was advised the compromise laws would come with parts such because the state central dispensary system that may make it higher.

“Right here we’re as we speak altering what all of us backed off for, and why?” Ruzicka mentioned. “Earlier than the invoice even goes into place, the compromise has been modified and all of us trusted that wouldn’t occur.”

Medical marijuana sufferers turned emotional as they relayed their concern of being prosecuted for drug crimes.

“I’m a extremely good mother,” Megan Keller, who makes use of medical marijuana to regulate her seizures, mentioned. “To say a decide can take my children due to that’s terrible.”

Her assertion was met with cheers from the group. Medical marijuana advocates far outnumbered opponents of legalization on the listening to.

Dani Palmer, the vp of Utah Eagle Discussion board, mentioned she’s seen mother and father who use cannabis that act “out of it” and “can’t deal with one other particular person.”

“Why would we tie a decide’s arms and say you possibly can’t contemplate this abuse of a kid?” Palmer mentioned. “I don’t assume that’s the proper option to defend a toddler.”

Utah well being and agricultural officers closed out the listening to by highlighting points with zoning and land use ordinances that might forestall growers from having medical marijuana prepared for sufferers by subsequent yr.

A number of marijuana growers are dealing with delays in opening their services and planting crops, mentioned Drew Rigby, the cannabis coordinator for the Utah Division of Agriculture and Meals.

Nonetheless, Republican Senate Majority Chief Evan Vickers, who drafted the revised regulation, mentioned he’s optimistic that the modifications will enhance affected person entry and expedite the method.

“There’s a way of urgency right here,” he mentioned.

Utah’s medical marijuana program is about to launch subsequent yr.