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Utah in the Weeds Episode #71 - Former State Rep. Brad Daw

What to Expect in This Episode

Episode 71 of Utah in the Weeds features former state Representative Brad Daw, who was instrumental in establishing Utah's Medical Cannabis program.

Mr. Daw told us about the launch of his political career back in 2004, and the clash with local payday lenders that temporarily cost him his seat in the Utah House of Representatives in 2012. [01:32]

After regaining his seat in 2014, Daw began working on a number of political issues, including prescription drug abuse, election transparency, affordable and accessible healthcare, and, of course, Medical Marijuana. [02:20]

Daw shared some of his conservative beliefs about small government, taxes, and finding cross-party governmental solutions in the least intrusive manner. [02:56]

Daw and host Tim Pickett talked about CBD, "Charlotte's Web" and the paradigm shift that began to bring Medical Cannabis to the attention of Utah lawmakers. [05:11]

Toward the end of Utah's 2014 legislative session, Daw and Sen. Evan Vickers began working on a plan to grant access to Medical Marijuana for those with legitimate medical needs. [09:36]

Daw talked about the "thoroughly-mocked" right-to-try law that allowed terminally-ill patients to grow and use cannabis with THC. He also talked about the proliferation of CBD, and his own use of CBD as a sleep aid. [12:14]

Some past and present members of the Utah Legislature, including Daw, have resisted legalizing raw cannabis flower for medical use. Tim and Daw talked about some of the reasons for that resistance, and Daw's current stance on the subject. [16:47]

Tim and Daw talked about some of the challenges legislators in Utah and other states have faced in establishing Medical Marijuana programs. They went over the ballot initiative and the compromise bill that makes cannabis available for a broader range of patients in Utah. [19:30]

States with Medical Cannabis programs have quite a lot of regulations to consider. In Utah, every Medical Cannabis patient must meet with a pharmacist at least once before purchasing cannabis from a pharmacy. Daw feels regulations like these are critical to the successful implementation of cannabis as a legitimate medicine. Daw also explained why cannabis isn't taxed in Utah. [28:06]

We wrapped up the episode with a brief discussion of what's next for Mr. Daw. [43:36]

This episode is full of great information on the history of Medical Marijuana in Utah. Daw gave us some unique insight into the Utah Legislature's decisions and processes that resulted in a successful Medical Cannabis program.

Resources in This Episode

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:
Episode 71 of Utah in the Weeds coming at you. And my name is Tim Pickett. I am your host, medical cannabis expert, so to speak. Medical provider here in Utah, founder of Utah Marijuana.org, Utah Therapeutic Health Center, a series of medical cannabis specialty clinics here in the great state of Utah.

Tim Pickett:
Today, we're talking to Brad Daw, he's a former legislator, a key person in the medical cannabis program. He was "in the room," quote unquote, when major decisions were being made, especially with regard to the updates of the medical cannabis program over the past few years. I think this is interesting, for patients in Utah and advocates alike.

Tim Pickett:
From a housekeeping perspective, tune into Discover Marijuana, YouTube channel. We do webinars every other week and have a released video talking about the science and medicine of cannabis. The best way to get ahold of me or ask a question is simply to go to that YouTube channel and comment on one of the videos. We look at every question and answer all of them as best we can. You can subscribe to the podcast on any podcast player that you prefer. All episodes are on utahmarijuana.org. Again, utahmarijuana.org/podcast. This is Utah in the Weeds. I'm Tim Pickett.

Tim Pickett:
Introduce yourself a little bit. Describe your history, especially that in the legislature.

Brad Daw:
I began my legislative service after the election of 2004. That's when I was first elected, and I was in for a number of years. And then for reasons that... Well, I mean to put it bluntly, I took on payday lenders, and they have a lot of money. And they decided to target me and in 2012, they took me out. In 2014, what they had done became really apparent, and I got back in. And that's really when I started the whole thing with med cannabis, was around that time. And then I was in until just this last year, and really enjoyed it.

Brad Daw:
So then I worked on a number of issues, I worked a lot on prescription drug abuse. I worked on election transparency, honest elections. Worked a lot with healthcare, and making it affordable and trying to find a way to get access for people who don't normally have access. Trying to change the healthcare model to one that makes it a little bit more sense than our current system does. So those are just a couple of areas that I have specialized in.

Tim Pickett:
Do you feel like you're somebody who hangs to the right, on the political spectrum? Where do you fit, in the left to right?

Brad Daw:
Well, I tilt... I'm from Utah County. So in Utah County, I'm right in the middle. But I tilt to the right.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
So, make no mistake about it. I come at things from... I use terms not to, in a way, disparage them. Just trying to kind of give you a feel of what I believe in. I believe in, government should be limited, but not non-existent. That government does have a role, but we should always be mindful of the fact that the vast majority of people choose to make good decisions, and really don't want to pay a lot in taxes unless you're getting... Well, ever. And whenever they do pay taxes, they want to see they're getting a rock-solid benefit for the money that they're being required to give.

Brad Daw:
And it's always... I always want to be clear about that. I've heard some politicians call taxes contributions, and it just makes me kind of gag. It's not a contribution. You are required to give taxes. And I need to always remember that. So, like I said, I want government to be kind of a light hand, but understand that they do have a particular role in many areas that they're only suited for. And we need to understand that. So, yes, I lean to the right. And I also think I lean towards the idea of solving problems, not just being an ideologue.

Tim Pickett:
Right, not just legislating because you can. You see a potential issue, and then try to fix that issue.

Brad Daw:
Exactly. I mean, that's the whole idea. Let's look at the issue, and frankly, let's consider all perspectives. So let's look at those who lean left, those who lean right. All across the spectrum. Let's gather ideas and let's run that through. Kind of my, my preference, which is the government take the least invasive role they can. And then, from that, let's see if we can find a solution.

Tim Pickett:
Did you, when you were working in healthcare, 2010, right? 2008. Are you talking about medical cannabis at all, clear back then?

Brad Daw:
No. It was on the radar. It didn't get on the radar for me until... Well, you know what? You probably know this better than I do. When did Charlotte's Web kind of hit the national news?

Tim Pickett:
Oh, yeah. That's a good, that's a good... I'll tell you right now.

Brad Daw:
Well, it seems like that was around '13? '12, '13, '14, around there.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. I think you're right. I think the critical events started right then, in July 2013.

Brad Daw:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
That's the summer when we're talking about it, right?

Brad Daw:
I think so. Yeah. Charlotte's Web kind of, I mean, for me, that was a paradigm shift. You hear people talking about medical cannabis, California has had medical cannabis for 30 years now. And all the time you're just kind of in the back of your head saying, "Okay, great. You've got to wait to get ahold of some marijuana and get high. Show me some evidence of actual medical efficacy. Show me what it is."

Brad Daw:
And it wasn't that I was close minded. Some people might disagree. But it was a, "Look, show me what you got. Put your cards on the table. If there's really genuine medical use for it, let's have it." And, with Charlotte's Web, we had to start saying, "Well, at least this substance called CBD, has some use." And that kind of opened the door for me and said, "All right. The notion that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, or cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no real medical benefit that outweighs its risk or abuse potential," just didn't fly anymore. We have to change our thinking. And it's clear that the federal government wasn't going to.

Brad Daw:
So that's what got me in the space. Now, my degree is in electrical engineering, I have no... Other than having been a patient many, many times because of some injuries I had when I was child, that's my contact with the healthcare industry. So I'm a guy who comes at it with hopefully an unbiased view, but at least a view that's not trying to put my thumb on the scale for any one group or another, but just trying to do what's right, and that’s what was in my mind.

Tim Pickett:
You're basically trying to be a... Yeah. Like an innocent educated bystander. "We're going to take both sides. I represent my district." And you represent a fairly conservative part of the state.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
So was there discussions at that time about going towards THC, like California? It seems to me, like in my memory, and I'm graduating PA school at this time, the University of Utah, there's no, I can't remember. Although we were buried in school, I can't really remember a bunch of discussions about, "Let's bring medical marijuana on board, " in 2013, '14.

Brad Daw:
For me, where I started with was, "Okay. CBD is definitely something we need to look at." And again, "Take the cautious approach. If that's the substance that has medical benefit, let's explore it. Let's find a way to make it available in a way that's legal, and also regulated for safety and consistency," and that sort of thing. So you're not just buying your CBD at the gas station and hoping that it's not laced with something really exciting.

Tim Pickett:
Right.

Brad Daw:
It's something you would get off of a drugstore shelf. That's what we wanted to get to was, you can be assured that this CBD that you're buying has the same level of quality assurance as if you bought a bottle of Tylenol or ibuprofen or anything else. What it has in it, is what it says it has in it.

Tim Pickett:
What are the... At the time, were there are a lot of people that were really against? Or did you feel like this was something that you had a lot of support for?

Brad Daw:
There was a lot of angst, and I.... What really happened is, towards the end of the session, and I want to say this was the 2014 session, because that was my first session back in. Evan Vickers and I had a long history together. He had been on the Health and Human Services Committee in the House with me, and now he was in the Senate, in 2014. And we were good friends. And of course, he's got a pharmaceutical background and he was somebody I trusted, and still trust completely. And so I said, "Listen, I don't want this to be driven by those who I think might have a motive beyond just medical. In other words, they might be used in medical as a wedge issue to push for recreational. I want this to be a pushed as a way to provide medical relief to those who actually would genuinely benefit from it." So that's when I started with Evan, is in 2014, looking at it. And we've been kind of on that road ever since, together. And he's kind of stuck with it, now.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, he's definitely stuck with it all the way, to be essentially the leader in the THC side of things, from a legislative standpoint through now.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
How did that progress until you... There's this piece, there's this period of time in 2017, you said? You essentially got primaried out? Is that what they call it?

Brad Daw:
For 2018, yeah.

Tim Pickett:
2018?

Brad Daw:
Yes, I got eliminated... Well, no, no. I'm sorry. It was just this last year. What am I thinking? It's 2020. So I was in, until 2020.

Tim Pickett:
It's been a long year.

Brad Daw:
Yeah. Yeah. 2020 was just a... I mean, let's call it what it was. I won't use the word because we're being recorded, but, a you-know-what kind of storm. Right?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. It's been a long two years, of a year. I feel like. And, some of that still lingers, with this... There's so much. There's just so much, still, to deal with. It seems like, we're at now.

Brad Daw:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
So, 2020. So you go all the way through.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
How does this... What changed your mind about involving THC? Was it really just the referendum, the ballot initiative?

Brad Daw:
No. No, it wasn't at all. In fact, if you look at the bill that we started with, it allowed for some level of THC, along with the CBD. We were leery of raw flower, and still a little leery of raw flower, frankly. But we were all for the idea that some level of THC is effective. And our bill got modified to the point where we were open to up to 50, 50 THC, CBD and so forth. And honestly, we were willing to do more than that, once we got doctors on board and evidence in place that demonstrated that it was effective.

Brad Daw:
In fact, we passed a bill, it was thoroughly mocked, but it was a right to try, which allowed for a full strain of cannabis. And the idea there was, that was kind of our toe tap into, basically whatever kind of cannabis you want. Now, we weren't quite ready to endorse raw bud, but we were certainly ready to endorse anything else. And that's where it got to. And again, we're trying to follow the evidence. There was concerns about the abuse potential of THC, and that's why we think it necessary to be under the care of a doctor.

Brad Daw:
On the other hand, I passed another bill, this is kind of one I did on my own, with the Senator Hinkins, for him. And that one allows you to buy CBD products over the counter. So where it can be of use, like there can with the opioids, you want to go through a doctor. But when it's not really an abuse potential sell it over the counter, and just ensure like you do with Tylenol and so forth, that it's safe. And it's what they said it is.

Tim Pickett:
This is the bill... Yeah. And this is the bill that regulated, or that started the process, where now we have companies. And there's been some really good things about this. I've interviewed Blake Smith from Zion Medicinal. And I do a YouTube channel, Discover Marijuana, with him. And we talk about the certificate of analysis on all the CBD products.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
Where you've got... You've just got products. There are so many products across the nation even, to where, you don't know what's in there.

Brad Daw:
Yeah. And there's some... Charlotte's is... I've heard of people putting all manner of weird stuff in with their CBD. I want to say some kind of blood thinner, or something like that. I don't even know what they're thinking.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
And different kinds of opioids. And lace them with fentanyl, and heaven knows what. And of course, it's all illegal, they find ways to sell it and then we have to go out and figure out what's in it. And, "Nope. That's not it." So again, that's why we think there needs to be that government oversight saying, "Okay, we will analyze the product and ensure that it is what you say it is. But that's the extent of our oversight is, we guarantee the pure and then it's accurate on the label. And then, we allow people in the case of CBD to say, 'Well, I can decide what and how I'll take it.'"

Tim Pickett:
Everybody's going to be dying to know, are you somebody who's consumed CBD?

Brad Daw:
Yes.

Tim Pickett:
Have you used it for anything?

Brad Daw:
Yeah, I use it for a sleep aid.

Tim Pickett:
Do you find it helps?

Brad Daw:
Yeah. It's pretty effective. The nice thing about it is it doesn't produce any kind of a high. It has some CBN in it as well, or CBG or something like that.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, CBN.

Brad Daw:
There's [crosstalk 00:16:13] in there that's more effective as a sleep aid. And I find that it actually works pretty well. I have been on a prescription sleep aid that, it's not bad, but I kind of want to get off of it. And so, this actually works. So yes, I consume CBD. I have no problem with it at all.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. The CBD and the CBN are good. That's a good combo.

Brad Daw:
And it's a reputable company, that's trying to play ball by the rules and they're doing a good job. And I'm very happy to work with them, and support their product.

Tim Pickett:
So what does the legislature have against the flower? Is it really just because, the argument I've heard that and that I tell my patients, frankly. Because we're a no flame state, in the THC side is, there's a lot of lung damage that you're avoiding by not using a flame.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
But is that the only argument that was happening at the time? Is it this image too, to this image of raw bud?

Brad Daw:
It depends who you talk to. Law enforcement doesn't like it because there's no way to properly distinguish between legal and illegal marijuana. That's a problem for them. And people say, "Well, I can put it in a container, or I can go buy a container and put raw bud in it." So that's a problem for them, and we can dispute whether marijuana should be illegal or not. But for law enforcement, since it's still illegal, they have a concern with that.

Brad Daw:
There is kind of the notion that raw bud is just a little bit easier to abuse. I don't know if that's true or not, but it seems at least to be more related to what you do recreationally, and it feels a little less like a medicine. So was kind of an image thing, about it. Now, I was concerned about it, because it seemed like you got kind of real problems with dosing and accuracy. The fact is, if you take two different... I mean, especially me as a novice, you take raw bud from two different bands, and one of them makes you higher than a kite, and the other one makes you drowsy. And, dosage is a little bit tricky.

Brad Daw:
Now, maybe it's not, but I've talked to Ed Redd and he says, "Well, no. The fact is, you take raw bud and you measure it pretty carefully and you know what you're getting to begin with. And you vape it right and you get a pretty accurate dosing." So I'm a little less leery of raw bud. And really for me, the only angst I have left about it is, it's too... It's the same, it's a kissing cousin to illegal use of cannabis.

Brad Daw:
It's kind of the same thing where, we sell morphine, we don't sell heroin. We sell morphine in pills and shots and that sort of thing, we don't sell the black tar that you heat with a spoon and then main line. You know what I'm saying? It's the same kind of concept of, if it's medicinal, let's create genuinely medicinal forms. So if raw bud is a medicinal form, so be it.

Tim Pickett:
Got it. And it's kind of heartening, frankly, to hear you say things that I would anticipate... I would hope, that the legislature understands. I was just back in North Carolina, testifying at a state Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. In North Carolina, they're trying to pass a medical marijuana bill right now.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
And they have good support. But the legislatures we talked to... Boy, it was, some of them really don't know anything at all. I hate to put it that way, but that's just the fact. It just was, it was pretty interesting. So, timeline goes a little forward, the 2018. You're you're now the chief sponsor of the cannabis. Was that the cannabis updates or the original?

Brad Daw:
That's the update.

Tim Pickett:
That was the update. So we already have...

Brad Daw:
Yeah. What happened is, the referendum passed. Now, this may be a point of argument or contention, but the referendum as passed was unworkable. It had some very blatant contradictions in it, and both sides I think, ultimately acknowledged that it had some real problems. They had negotiated a compromise. I had been adamant enough about, "This is a wedge issue towards recreational," it was better for me not to be in the negotiations. And the sponsor in the House of the compromise bill, that basically... Some people will say overturned, I would say, properly implemented the referendum. Not the referendum, the initiative.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. The initiative, because the initiative allowed... In the industry, and there's some patient groups who are like, "Okay, we had," I think they had smoke-able flower, and they had grow your own. They had home grow, in the compromise. But the story, as the story has been told actually on this podcast with Desiree Hennessy, from the Utah Patients Coalition. The LDS, one of the big players, the LDS Church said, "Look, we're going to oppose this, and that's not going to go well in Utah." And the legislature agreed, with some of the things that needed to be changed. And so before it even passed, this was already, "If it does pass, we're going to do something with it."

Brad Daw:
No, either way. Passed or not passed.

Tim Pickett:
Either way.

Brad Daw:
Yeah. It was going to go either way.

Tim Pickett:
I see.

Brad Daw:
So, there was no... Now. By it passing, it probably accelerated the timeline. Because like I say, there were some issues in there that needed to be addressed immediately, because they just made... They put law enforcement and doctors and patients in kind of an impossible situation. And I'd have to go back and kind of think about what it was, but it was a very difficult situation. But, the gentleman's agreement, which I firmly believe would have been honored is, "Whether or not the initiative passes, we will move forward with this compromise."

Brad Daw:
And the LDS Church, which I think was fully prepared to launch a fairly aggressive campaign, backed down. And all that being said, the initiative passed by a fairly narrow margin.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
So it was what it was, but there was no intent if the initiative failed, to basically just go back to square zero. We had a compromise in place. There had been a full-on press conference, in which the LDS Church, legislative leadership, the sponsors of the bill and everybody had spoken to it. So it would have been a pretty major egg-on-the-face thing, if the legislature at that point would have said, "Well, it didn't pass, so... On you." It just wouldn't happen.

Tim Pickett:
Right. So that compromise gets done. And there's a few things right away... I mean, that was about when... I got involved in 2019, end of 2019.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
And we still had the idea that when the first pharmacy opened, as far as the statute was concerned, we were going to get blister packs for flower.

Brad Daw:
Yep.

Tim Pickett:
And everybody knew, there were some things that had to be changed right away. Just as a matter of logistics, production. Did you notice that right away, when the bill got passed? When the original compromise got passed?

Brad Daw:
Yep. Look, every year. When I was up there, every year, we started... I mean, literally, the day after the session. And there were a couple of times we even had that special session, just to fix something that clearly was broken. And then we started, we'd start the day after the session on the next bill to say, "Okay, here's the laundry list of things we're going to do next year to kind of clean things up."

Brad Daw:
I mean, the fact is that, Utah has never been in the business... Some people will take umbrage with this. In fact, what Utah was trying to do, was be the FDA, the DEA. I mean, they were trying to create an entire structure, that they'd never had to do before. This was all new territory. And we were going to receive no help from the federal government, or maybe didn't even want help from the federal government. We just had to figure this all out. And so, yeah. It's a work in progress.

Brad Daw:
I'm a software engineer by profession. And so, I'm very used to the idea that you release software that works pretty well, but has bugs in it. And then, it's an ongoing process to fix problems as they come up. There's problems now, there's things that are going on now with supply chain and different things like that, that aren't quite right. There's problems with a lack of research in the state, that still need to be fixed. It's going to be an ongoing issue for years to come. And we're looking at other states and seeing what they're doing. And hopefully, at some point, there will be enough states to get together a really good framework, that's generally medical, that the federal government take notice of and go, "Okay, maybe we better just have a national program. We have this in 50 or 49, whatever states.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, there's now 37 states with some type of program.

Brad Daw:
37 states.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, it's a lot.

Brad Daw:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
There's a lot of progress. What other states did you guys look at? Is that a thing? You're looking at, "Okay. In this state they're doing this."

Brad Daw:
Yeah. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, were two of the main ones. Wisconsin has got a very locked down programs. Pennsylvania has, I think, a really good program. I can't remember, it seemed like New Orleans... Not new Orleans, but Louisiana, had a pretty decent program as I recall, that they were implementing. And what we were looking for is states that generally treated it like medicine, and also had a strong research component. So that was the kinds of things we were looking for.

Brad Daw:
I mean, we wanted doctors to feel, not just... Sometimes you have kind of this niche of doctors, who just do cannabis and nothing else. We wanted doctors across the spectrum to say, "Okay, you know what? This has some legitimate use. I've seen really good peer reviewed research. I've seen enough information. I'm clear on what the side effects are, what the downside is, the contraindications." I mean, look, you're a PA. You know as well as I do, there are some people you should not be giving THC to.

Tim Pickett:
That is true.

Brad Daw:
I hope you, I mean, you got to acknowledge that there's some people, it's like, "You know what? You better not have THC. It will not go well with you." Okay?

Tim Pickett:
No, it's definitely, there's definitely not. My personal view is, it's great as a medicine, it can be very effective for certain individuals with certain conditions. It's relatively safe to try, for the most part. That's my opinion of it. And that, I think, bears out in the research. And that's why I'm fascinated with the idea of legislation.

Tim Pickett:
Cannabis is unique as a drug. Because it's legislated, it's one of the only parts of medical practice that just has such a legislative component in this legal, crime. There's this whole history of, in this entire country, of marijuana in general.

Brad Daw:
Yep.

Tim Pickett:
And it puts everybody into a... I don't know, it seems like a heightened state. Everybody's got a...

Brad Daw:
And plus... You're absolutely right. And the reason for that is because you have this conundrum, that really, it's illegal. I mean, what we're doing as a state is, basically violating federal law. Now we can talk about niceties, like recommending instead of prescribing, and et cetera. And fair use and all that kind of stuff.

Tim Pickett:
Sure.

Brad Daw:
At the end of the day, it's illegal. Federally. I mean, if the DA decided to... I think the hue and cry would be fascinating, but if the DA to, say, to move into a pharmacy in any state in the nation and say, "We're shutting you down."

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
What do you do?

Tim Pickett:
I mean, the fact is, "This is cannabis and it's illegal. And I don't care what you say, we're shutting you down." The fact they haven't done it is fascinating, but it means we have all these legislative loopholes and pitfalls and traps, and all that kind of stuff. I mean, it would be much nicer... Two things. It would be nice, really, really nice, if cannabis in general were Schedule 2. I mean, name some on drugs that are Schedule 2 that are scary.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. Well, I mean, Percocet, Lortab, benzos.

Brad Daw:
Cocaine!

They're all... But, I mean, I'm going to go along this line. And you have a regulatory framework, you have interstate commerce, everything is all set up. If you just make it Schedule 2. It's all there.

Brad Daw:
You make it Schedule 2... Look. And all of the research that could go on. Okay? I might be a little more skeptical than you. I think that there have been some serious side effects from cannabis. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but let's find out. I mean, good grief. Let's start having some double blind studies. Let's get this out in the open. I mean, you've talked to the U of U, and they say, "Yeah, we have a Schedule 1 license." "Well, how many people do you study it on?" We finally do have a person study, which I had not seen the results of.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
They said, "Well, we study on dogs." "Well, good for you. You've got a Schedule 1 license, and you study on dogs. Way to go."

Tim Pickett:
Right. And 37 states... Well, and now 35,000 Utahns are legal cannabis users, now.

Brad Daw:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
So there's got to be more we can do, from a human research perspective. Compare it to different drugs. The comparative studies, I'm most interested in. Compare Ambien and a little THC and CBD and CBN. Let's compare it. Let's see.

Brad Daw:
I'd love to see that. I'd love to see that, because I think, I mean everything I hear... And again, from advocates to people who know the chemistry, say a little bit of THC, not a lot. A lot that doesn't make you high, but a little bit in there, really puts a spark plug on that compound. It really likes... It makes it much more effective without really modifying the mood of the person.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
So, those kinds of studies where... I mean, the fact is, we know how opioids work inside and out. We know them backwards and forwards. We know how a lot of these OTC drugs work. But cannabis? What's the long-term effects? How does it work on kids? What happens if you have other drugs you're taking with it? Well, it's probably safe, but maybe it's not. There might be some new drug that comes out that you take cannabis with it and... Who knows?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. I actually worry about that, those drug interactions worse than anything is that, you'd get somebody on cannabis and they'd be using it fine. And then they come out with something new, and there's no data about it. They're not doing any research about it. And then somebody has a bad outcome.

Brad Daw:
Exactly, yep.

Tim Pickett:
And then, if the federal government has hasn't fixed it yet, then you've got a worse conundrum. Right? But there's still the gun ownership issue. You've got to fill out the form, and you've got to either lie, or not buy a gun, on your federal ATF form. You've got law enforcement. I think still, even though they... There's a little bit of trickiness, I feel like, with law enforcement. Still, with THC. You've got on the highway side, the federal side. Of course, crossing state lines was an issue, up until we had enough product in Utah to sell. But it's still going to be an issue. I mean, you've got a couple of dispensaries who make their living on Utahns, right off the border.

Brad Daw:
Right. And that's true. All of it. But yeah, you're right. If we could have interstate commerce, we could have it be Schedule 2. If we have all the research. I would happily, if I was in the legislature, I would happily roll back our Utah regulation and let it fall under... I mean, the feds do plenty of things wrong, and right. But the fact is, if we have a consistent regulatory envelope that encompasses all medication, it just seems like it would be better for everybody. If we could do that. And this really ridiculous conundrum we have, it's just a giant headache.

Tim Pickett:
Do you feel like the qualification list that Utah put together is pretty good? Did you argue one way or the other on expanding it, things like that? Did you have a part to play in that?

Brad Daw:
I thought it was okay. And I was comfortable because we got the compassionate use board, and we tracked that. And the one thing that comes up pretty clearly is, there have been some compassionate use applicants, and they have received it. But as I recall, it's been a while since we've had a hearing on it, but it seems like there's not very many that are having to go to compassionate use for us. And they always manage to find something unlisted. And the fact is, if you have, let's say you have lupus or something like that, that's not on the list? The fact is you probably have chronic pain, and that is on the list. So, there's some symptoms you probably have, that is on the list somewhere. If you really have something that cannabis is going to help. Now, could we refine it? Yeah, we probably could. And over time, as research comes in, I suspect we will.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
But when I see, if we were to see... Again, speaking as, not there right now. If we were to see a huge surge in compassionate use for a major condition, then that's a pretty solid argument. "Hey, we should move that to the list."

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
I haven't seen that, maybe it's happening now, but I haven't seen it. So I feel like, we probably hit the list pretty close.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. I think on the medical side, on the medical clinic side and seeing patients, we have what we call a medical cannabis advisory group, with the Utah Cannabis Association, a group of QMPs and pharmacists. Small group, who's developing a survey. Because on the one hand, you're absolutely right. If you had lupus, or you had something that caused pain, you could qualify under pain. And then you get access. On the other hand, from a medical standpoint, we like to know what the diagnosis is. It's not as good for research, if everybody just qualifies for pain. It would be easier if we had, "Oh yeah, you qualify for insomnia. You qualify for neuropathy." And I can separate those out from a research perspective.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
So we like, me personally, I kind of... I don't mind the list, because you're right. With the chronic pain that brings in quite a few people who want to, and who do qualify for, a medical marijuana card. And like I say, on the other hand, I'd like to expand the list a little so we can do a little bit better research, and target that.

Brad Daw:
There again, it's kind of a chicken and egg thing. Ideally what you'd like is something like a PDR, right?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
Physician's Desk Reference, which is, "Here's the list of conditions. Here's how cannabis responds to it. Here's," maybe, "the dosage profile you want to look at. And if necessary, here's some black box labels where you really don't want to be using cannabis. It's not the right, say, " Here's the drugs for interaction." If we had all of that research in place, then it would be easy. I guess the reason that I see for the list, more than anything else, is you have a lot of doctors out there who are like, "I don't know what to prescribe it for."

Tim Pickett:
It's so true. We do as much education for the other QMP's as we probably do for patients. Just because, that's the case. Once you know about it, once you learn about it... And the growers, and the pharmacists. What do you think... This kind of changes gears a little bit. What do you think about the pharmacists in the pharmacies, here in Utah? Do you think that was good? A good way to go? Or too expensive?

Brad Daw:
Absolutely necessary. Yeah. Absolutely necessary. I'll tell you why. I see other states that have bud-tenders who have no qualifications whatsoever, or required qualifications. And that scares me to death. I mean, I've heard stories and again, maybe I didn't know, maybe I'm just being paranoid. But it would seem to me that, if there's no qualification, if all I have is a card, which is not the card saying, "I have this condition and I need this kind of a dosage profile which I'm sure you as a PA, that's what you do. You don't just say, "Go buy marijuana." You say, "Here's…

Tim Pickett:
No, but there are a lot of... there's plenty of QMP's out there, I'm sure do that. And like you just finished saying, there's a lot of docs and PAs, nurse practitioners, who are going to be like, "Eh, I don't know. You qualify, but I don't know what to tell you, after that."

Brad Daw:
And the idea is, if we have some specialized pharmacists, they've got the pharmacy background. So they're very comfortable with all the things you need to know about dispensing a drug. And then they specialize in cannabis, so they've got that additional expertise that says, "Okay, we know about those dosage, we know about conditions," all that kind of stuff. And so now you've got a resource that people can call and say, "Well, okay, I've got a patient with so-and-so. What do you think?" And have that consultation.

Brad Daw: That helps the doctor and the patient, because the doctor is more focused on maybe the body and the physiology, and the pharmacist is more focused on the dosage and the side... Whatever it is. But they work together.

Brad Daw:
With a bud-tender, it seems like you have the potential for, "I've got a right to shop card. I can walk into a dispensary in," well, let's just say Colorado, right? And the bud-tender, if he's even slightly unethical or unscrupulous, or just figures that making money is his cage. And you know what? I'm going to try to sell you the most addictive, high-producing stuff I can, because I want you as a repeat patient. Now, maybe that's paranoia on my part, but it just doesn't feel medical, when you go into a bud-tender and he's recommending whatever, without any medical training whatsoever.

Brad Daw:
So to me, the pharmacist is a really important part of the whole medical plan that makes it medicine not... Well, I will use an analogy that was promoted by... Do you know who Scott Imler is?

Tim Pickett:
No.

Brad Daw:
Scott Imler is the author of the original California medical cannabis bill. And he, to this day, openly regrets some of the things he did. Because what he says now about California is, the dispensers in California, in his words, not mine.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
Are nothing more than drug dealers with a storefront. And we don't want to be that. So yeah, to me, the pharmacy is a big deal.

Tim Pickett:
I think there's other states, definitely. I know when I was in North Carolina, they had a lot of questions about the pharmacist and about that regulation. And it does seem like it's a good argument from a medical standpoint, to have a pharmacist in there.

Brad Daw:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
We really, we communicate with them all the time. I have another question for you. And that is, why is the state of Utah... Why did they decide not to charge sales tax?

Brad Daw:
That was a huge push from Libertas. First of all, they don't want any taxes, but it's the same reason we don't charge sales tax on any other medication. If you go and buy opioids from a pharmacy, there's no sales tax. So the idea is that, charging, taxing for an important medical thing, important medicine is kind of... You're just digging into the patient even more. So let's not put the state overhead on that. Now, the downside to that is, we could do the sales tax, maybe earmark a little bit for different things. But that was kind of a negotiated point.

Tim Pickett:
The patients like it, I know the patients still complain that things are too expensive, but there's a lot of reasons for that. And we talked to, multiple, multiple guests have talked about really, how expensive it is now. But comparing that to other states. And then, everybody seems to agree that prices will come down for patients over time.

Brad Daw:
Yeah. We need to increase supply. We need to make sure supply meets demand. And one of the ironies you have, is when you have a number of growers, it becomes in their best interest to limit the supply. And, that's a problem. So it would be nice if there was enough grown to meet demand, in an economical way. And of course, some of the demand, there are some patients who just... Since they're paying cash for it, may decide, "You know what? I got my insurance, I'll go and try different routes." And so that decreases demand in a way you don't want it decreased, because if cannabis really is the better route, you want that to be accessible to the patients. So that's an ongoing problem.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. So what's next for Brad Daw?

Brad Daw:
Well, let's see. I've got dinner at 6:00, so... I mean, look. I've got public service in the blood and... What do I do, specifically? Well, it depends. I've worked with the hemp growers. I've worked with legislators trying to help make sure that the hemp law is right, because that's kind of my baby, I did that... Not on my own, but essentially, that was my bill. And got it passed in a kind of miraculous sort of way, honestly.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Brad Daw:
And I've been very proud of the fact that Utah has a pretty decent hemp industry now, because of it. And of course, I'm very involved in the cannabis side of things. I've been involved in other election issues. So, I don't see stepping away completely. Right now, I've got plenty going on with work and family and stuff. I've got, always, plenty to do. But I don't see myself staying completely out of the public arena for any length of time. I mean, I've on here to do a podcast, and it's been great fun to talk with you. It's been a real opportunity.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. Well, thanks for coming on. Is there someplace we can follow you, or that listeners can pay attention to what you're doing?

Brad Daw:
Honestly, I don't really post much anymore. I don't do much on social media so, not really. I may start up again...

Tim Pickett:
That's all right.

Brad Daw:
... but, no. I use my Facebook page for family pictures. I've got an Elect Brad Daw page, but I don't really keep that up to date. If things change, you'll see it. But right now, I don't do much. Most of my work is more behind the scenes, working with people in office, and different policy makers. That's kind of where I'm living right now. I'm not doing much, publicly.

Tim Pickett:
You're smart.

Brad Daw:
It has its benefits.

Tim Pickett:
I'm sure that has its benefits, at this point in time. Well, thanks again for coming on. You can find these podcasts at utahmarijuana.org/podcast.

Tim Pickett:
Again, Brad Daw. Thanks for coming. Great conversation. Take care. Is there anything you want to say before we let everybody go?

Brad Daw:
Genuine pleasure, and have me back on anytime you like. I really love talking policy, and you've been a lot of fun to talk with. I've enjoyed your medical expertise, that's made it really interesting for me. So I appreciate it, and I'd be happy to come on again anytime.

Tim Pickett:
Great. Thanks. All right, everybody. Stay safe out there.

 

By UtahMarijuana.org
Published September 17, 2021
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