UTAH (ABC4) – Though the laws for marijuana use seem to be loosening up throughout the nation, Utah legislatures still hold a tight grip on the state’s cannabis regulations.
With that, it’s important to recognize that in a democratic society, states get the advantage of making their own laws around recreational drugs. La Jolla notes that with many of Utah’s neighboring states have already legalized recreational marijuana use including Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, California, New Mexico, and Oregon. The rules around cannabis use in the Beehive State could soften in the coming years. Despite the possible future relaxation of laws, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the state’s current cannabis regulations, as many Utah users don’t even know what is and isn’t legal regarding the drug.
So, is marijuana use legal in Utah? To answer this question it’s necessary to backtrack a few years to 2014, when only no- or low-THC CBD oil became legal for registered patients with intractable epilepsy and a physician’s recommendation, as noted by the Utah Therapeutic Health Center (UTHC). In Feb. 2018, terminally ill patients were granted the “right to try” and grow Medical Marijuana plants. Months later in Nov. 2018, what’s seen as the starting point for Utah marijuana laws today, came about when voters passed Proposition 2, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. However, the Act became more restrictive in Dec. 2018 when H.B. 3001 was passed, changing provisions to be more restrictive, making low-THC CBD oil legal for all.
Today, only medical marijuana use is legal in Utah. Serious violations can result when an individual who is not a patient is in possession of the drug. According to the UTHC, “possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor at a minimum unless the possessor is a Medical Marijuana patient. Any sale of marijuana outside of one of the authorized Medical Marijuana dispensaries/pharmacies is a felony.”
What exactly does it take to become a Medical Marijuana patient in Utah?
In order to become a Medical Marijuana patient, Utahns must be a state resident with one of the following qualifying conditions, as listed by the UTHC:
- HIV or AIDS
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Epilepsy or debilitating seizures
- Multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder currently being treated and monitored by a licensed mental health therapist
- A terminal illness when the patient’s remaining life expectancy is less than six months
- A condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care
- A rare condition or disease that affects less than 200,000 individuals in the United States and is not adequately managed despite treatment attempts
- Pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed
- A condition that the Compassionate Use Board approves on an individual, case-by-case basis
Additionally, the patient must meet in-person with a qualified medical professional, who will certify the patient’s eligibility for a medical card online with an application fee of $15. When approved by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), which takes roughly 15 days, the patient can use the card to purchase Medical Marijuana at any of the authorized pharmacies throughout Utah, which include:
- Cannabist Utah located at 484 S 1750 W, Springville, UT, 84663
- Beehive Farmacy located at 1991 3600 W, Salt Lake City, UT, 84104
- Curaleaf located at 3633 N Thanksgiving Way, Lehi, UT, 84043
- Dragonfly Wellness located at 711 S State Street, Salt Lake City, UT, 84111
- Bloc Pharmacy located at 10392 South Jordan Gateway, South Jordan, UT, 84095
- Deseret Wellness located at 222 N Draper Lane, Provo, UT, 84601
The initial Medical Marijuana card will expire in six months time. From there, the patient and provider can renew the card online for six months to a year.
It’s important to note that you must be at least 18-years-old to obtain a medical marijuana card in Utah, and all patients under 21 must acquire approval through the Compassionate Use Board, an organization that only takes mental health issues into consideration when issuing Medical Marijuana cards, excluding all other conditions listed as “qualifying conditions”, and makes decisions case-by-case.
Exactly how much marijuana can be possessed by an individual in Utah?
The UTHC states that a one-month supply in accordance with the dosage amount specified by a doctor or state-licensed pharmacist can be acquired at a time or up to four ounces of cannabis flower or 20 grams of THC.
How can I use marijuana in Utah?
Despite the common knowledge that marijuana is most often smoked, sparking up (setting fire to flower) is actually prohibited in the Beehive State, as are edibles such as candies, cookies, and brownies. If you’re looking to smoke, vaping Medical Marijuana is legal in Utah, as are the following forms of ingestion:
- Concentrated oil
- Liquid suspension
- Transdermal preparation
- Gelatinous cube
- Flower in an opaque, tamper-evident, and tamper-resistant container that contains a quantity that varies no more than 10% from the stated weight at the time of packaging
- Wax or resin
Can I grow my own marijuana in Utah?
The short answer is no, you cannot grow your own herb in Utah. The Utah Medical Cannabis Program states that at this time, no more Cannabis Cultivation licenses are being offered in the state.
If you are caught driving under the influence of marijuana you can be charged with a DUI. According to La Jolla, your first offense can lead to at least 48 hours in jail, 48 hours of community service, and possible home confinement.
Medical Marijuana in the workplace
This is where things can get tricky. Dragonfly Wellness of SLC put it best: “Senate Bill 46, protects state employees from being sanctioned in the workplace for their off-the-job use of medical cannabis. Just make sure you don’t let your medical card expire. However, independent employers retain the right to deny your patient card as a valid prescription. Make sure you understand company policy on the matter.”
All in all, be cautious and make sure to familiarize yourself, your loved ones, and any possible users you know of with the current marijuana regulations in Utah. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry!