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June 9, 2011 - Utah Attorney General Speaks on Medical Marijuana


Mark Shurtleff, the current Attorney General for the State of Utah, spoke today on KSL Radio's Doug Wright Show.  Mr. Shurtleff has battled cancer for some time, but announced earlier this week that he is now "cancer free."  His fight with cancer appears to have given him reason to reconsider the issue of legalizing medical marijuana in Utah.

His comments on KSL indicate that he might be willing to consider backing the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.  He stopped short of saying that he would actually support legalizing medical marijuana.  But he did indicate that he would be willing to think seriously about the issue of medical marijuana in Utah.

Mr. Shurtleff's position appears to be influenced by his own experiences in fighting cancer.  He discussed the pain experienced during chemotherapy as well as the inability to keep food down.  While he indicated that someone had suggested to him that he try using marijuana to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, he did not take that advice.

A move to legalize marijuana in Utah would have to come through the Utah State Legislature.  The role of the Attorney General is to enforce the law and prosecute crime - not to pass new laws.  While the statement of a prominent republican figure like Mr. Shurtleff is sure to cause some discussion of the issue, only the State Legislature could enact a law that would legalize medical marijuana in Utah.

The subject of medical marijuana has been hotly debated in the last several years.  Some nearby states have enacted legislation that has legalized marijuana in their own states.  However, it is important to remember at this point that Utah makes no exceptions to its controlled substance laws for users of medical marijuana.

Many out-of-state visitors have found themselves facing criminal charges for conduct that would be legal in their home state.  Even if you have a prescription for marijuana or a medical marijuana card, you can still be charged with a crime in Utah if you are found in possession of marijuana.

You can also be charged criminally for driving a vehicle with measurable controlled substance metabolite if the THC metabolite is still detectable in your blood.  If you are using marijuana for medical purposes, and you plan to drive on a trip through Utah, you need to exercise caution in timing your last dosage.  If the THC metabolite is still in your system when you drive in Utah, you could be charged criminally.

Stephen Howard is an experienced criminal defense attorney based in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He has extensive experience defending drug cases.  He has also successfully defended clients in cases ranging from aggravated murder to DUI and virtually everything in between.

If you are facing prosecution for a crime in Utah, contact us now to schedule an initial consultation.  See the difference an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer can make for your case.



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