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Utah has taken some baby steps toward recognizing that cannabis is a highly-beneficial medicine for its residents.

Two bills that would allow terminally ill patients access to medicinal marijuana and farmers to grow marijuana for research purposes under state supervision were given a favorable nod by lawmakers Wednesday as they were pushed out of a legislative committee and sent to the Utah House floor.

Orem Republican Rep. Brad Daw presented substitute versions of House Bills 195 and 197 to the House Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. The bills drew some concern from lawmakers and others, yet not enough to stop their advancement.

Daw described the legislation as being companion bills, as the marijuana that would be provided to terminally ill patients would be grown in Utah.

Quickly moving through House Bill 197, “Cannabis Cultivation Amendments,” Daw told the committee the bill would allow for the growth of “full-strength cannabis” within the state, as being such across state lines isn’t exactly something the Drug Enforcement Administration “is a big fan of.”

There is research being done on CBD, the non-psychoactive portion of the marijuana plant, within the state, Daw said. However, if they really want to research and test the full extent of the plant’s potential medicinal use, then the entire plant, including the portion that contains THC, or the chemical part that is psychoactive and makes a user “high,” should also be explored.

We need to allow there to be a supply,” Daw said.

House Bill 197 allows differing strains of cannabis to be grown by third parties under the supervision of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Access to the marijuana would be provided through a state-run dispensary.

This is where House Bill 197 connects with 195, as it is the point where terminally ill patients would be able to access experimental marijuana-based medications that are recommended by either a physician or nurse practitioner.

House Bill 197 passed with a 7-3 vote, with three committee members absent.

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