Both chambers of the Utah state legislature have passed a bill to protect public employees from termination if they choose to have a medical cannabis authorization, St. George News reports.
The legislation was crafted in response to a case involving firefighters in Ogden City who were placed on administrative leave and asked to turn in their medical cannabis prescriptions before they would be allowed back to work. One of the firefighters, Levi Coleman, filed a lawsuit claiming the city’s action violated the state’s medical cannabis law.
The proposal approved by lawmakers simply clarifies the existing statute and does not change the intent of the Medical Cannabis Act, said state Rep. Joel Ferry (R), a prime sponsor of the proposal.
“What this bill does is it provides some clarity to what the legislative intent was … in recognizing medical cannabis as a legitimate use of cannabis for treating certain ailments such as chronic pain and other issues that exist. I think it’s a strong move to help reinstate the rights of these patients.” — Ferry via St. George News
Law enforcement and the Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams testified against the bill at a hearing in January. Williams said the legislation was singling out the Ogden City fire department and the measure did not “balance the risk” for cannabis-impaired firefighters. He said the city was “following the law” when they suspended the firefighters. Randy Watt, a former Ogden City Police chief and representative of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association and Utah Law Enforcement Legislative Committee also testified against the bill, saying the medical cannabis “card opens too broad an avenue at this point and should be turned off.”
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