According to some, Utah was the first American state to prohibit marijuana in 1915. Other scholars claim California was the first in 1913, while Massachusetts may have restricted cannabis as early as 1911. In any case, residents of Utah were not even able to purchase CBD oil until 2014. Even then, you needed a physician’s recommendation and intractable epilepsy.
It was something of a surprise when Proposition 2, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, passed in November 2018. The state passed HB3001 and signed the legislation into law on the same day. While it is undeniably good news, the law only permits medical marijuana sold at approved locations and to authorized individuals.
The entire landscape has become increasingly complicated in Utah.
It seems as if the state’s lawmakers have no idea how to proceed. We know that the MMJ program in Utah officially begins in March 2020. However, Utah lawmakers have approved several tweaks to the original law.
In September 2019, for example, the Senate and House voted unanimously to approve changes to the MMJ program. It aimed to replace the original plans for the state to run a dispensary program. Instead, 14 privately run pharmacies will have the opportunity to sell medical cannabis.
In February 2020, Senator Evan Vickers introduced Senate Bill 121. The goal of the law, called Medical Cannabis Amendments, is to improve the existing legislation. It aims to increase the number of MMJ patients a doctor can see from 175 to 275. The figure rises from 300 to 600 if the physician is a ‘specialist.’ Vickers also wants weed in child-proof containers.
As you can see, it is a bit of a mess at present. Even so, we’re here to provide you with information on applying for the MMJ program in Utah.
The Definitive Guide on How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Utah
As part of the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, the state doesn’t need to have MMJ cards ready until March 1, 2020. The state also wasn’t required to offer licenses to dispensaries and facilities until the beginning of 2020. It made no effort to speed up the process, although we know of no delays to prevent ‘lift-off’ in March 2020.
The idea was to open 15 cultivation facilities by the start of 2022. In January 2020, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) announced the pharmacies that would sell weed at 14 locations. These include Curaleaf in Lindon and Justice Grown Utah, which has two licenses in Salt Lake City.
There is a provision in Proposition 2, which allows for more facilities if there is enough demand. The Act also ensures that there will be no more than one dispensary per 150,000 people in each county. Once everything is ready, this is what you’ll need to do to get an MMJ card in Utah.
Please note that you may have protection from the law if you meet specific criteria outlined in the state’s Controlled Substances Act. The law could protect you if caught in possession without an MMJ card before January 2021.
Step 1 – Get a Physician’s Recommendation
UDOH will begin accepting applications on March 1, 2020. You need to visit a qualified medical provider (QMP) pre-registered to recommend medical marijuana. During this initial consultation, you will discuss how medical marijuana will help benefit your condition. Bear in mind that you need to have one of the qualifying conditions we outline a little later on.
Step 2 – Apply for an MMJ Card
You will be able to apply for your MMJ card with your QMP at his/her office through an Electronic Verification System (EVS) from March 1 onward. The program is only open to residents of Utah, aged 21+. Provide your name, gender, age, and address. Patients must also sign a form where they acknowledge the risks of using weed.
If you are 18-20, you can qualify if the Compassionate Use Board recommends approval. Minors are also permitted but need to apply for a Medical Cannabis Guardian Card and a Provisional Patient Card. If you have a designated caregiver, they need to apply for a Medical Cannabis Caregiver Card.
Step 3 – Wait for Approval
Once you have applied, it shouldn’t take UDOH more than 15 days to issue a card if you qualify. Once you receive your Medical Cannabis Patient Card, it is valid for up to 30 days initially, then six months. You will need to renew the card every six months and pay a fee each time.
Step 4 – Use Your MMJ Card
Once you have the MMJ card, you can only purchase, possess, transport, and use weed in a medicinal dosage form. Also, you need to keep your card on you at all times if you have marijuana. You cannot use it in public barring an emergency. You can buy cannabis in Utah from March 2. However, it is possible that there are only two pharmacies open on that day. The plan is to have at least eight open by the end of June 2020.
What are the Qualifying Conditions Required to get a Medical Marijuana Card in Utah?
The medical marijuana law has approved the following conditions:
- Epilepsy/debilitating seizures
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Persistent nausea unrelated to pregnancy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Terminal illness with less than six months to live
- Any condition which affects less than 200,000 people in America
- A condition which causes the patient to require hospice care
- Any patient approved by the Compassionate Use Board that doesn’t have a medical condition on the list
- Chronic and severe pain lasting longer than 14 days if a non-opioid prescription or a physical intervention such as chiropractic care doesn’t work.
What are Medical Cannabis Card Costs in Utah?
Try as we might, we were unable to find hard evidence of the likely fees associated with getting an MMJ card in Utah. Going by other states, we expect a cost of between $50 and $100 to apply and $200-$300 for a doctor’s consultation. You can be fined $100 for not having your card if in possession of weed. A similar fine applies for not having your cannabis correctly labeled.
Other Important Information on the Utah Medical Marijuana License Process
When you get a Utah MMJ Card, there are limits on the type of cannabis you can buy. The act only allows tablets, capsules, gelatinous cubes, transdermal preparations, topicals, liquid suspension, and concentrated oil. You may not smoke cannabis in Utah, nor use any edible aside from the cubes.
Qualifying patients can possess a maximum of 113 grams of unprocessed cannabis. They must also possess no more than 20 grams of total composite THC. If you live less than 100 miles from your nearest dispensary, the limits fall to 56 grams and 10 grams, respectively.
The Act says that if you have an MMJ card and live more than 100 miles from a dispensary, you can grow a maximum of six plants.
In this case, you must grow your plants in a locked and enclosed space. It must remain out of view of any public place and be grown outdoors. We have bad news if you live within 600 feet of a community location or 300 feet of another home; you can’t grow weed!
The terms of Proposition 2 also state that you may not use cannabis in a way that causes combustion at a temperature of above 750 degrees Fahrenheit. This is due to a 2017 study by Portland University, which states that smoking weed at temperatures above 750 degrees releases harmful carcinogens. If that part of the law holds, it means you can’t smoke a joint and will need to use a vaporizer instead.
MMJ in Utah: Final Tidbits
Residents must wait until March 2020 to get their MMJ card. However, all is not lost if you are caught in possession of weed without a card before January 2021. If you can prove eligibility, you receive “an affirmative defense to criminal charges.” You can also defend yourself against criminal charges for weed possession. Do this by saying you are not a Utah resident or have lived in the state for less than 45 days.
If the state adheres to the ‘one dispensary per county per 150,000 people’ rule, it will have approximately 21.