What’s next for Utah after approving medical cannabis

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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An initiative has been approved by voters to permit medical cannabis in Utah. The Medical Marijuana Initiative, better known as “Utah Proposition 2,” was featured on the ballot in Utah as an initiated state statute on November 6, 2018.

Utah Proposition 2 led by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, with the percentage of precincts surpassing the 75 mark. A win for the cannabis proponents was predicted by NN and Salt Lake TV station KSTU.

The committee reported having received $882,934 in contributions, with the largest donor being the Marijuana Policy Project. MPP contributed a generous $318,111, comprised of both cash contributions and in-kind services.

Such a momentous occasion is sure to prompt state lawmakers to ensure the program is properly financed. A legislative compromise was decided on by anti and pro-cannabis ahead of the election. Certain details are still being figured out, however.

“On some of these loose ends (of the compromise), it does give us a bit more leeway,” said the campaign director of the Utah Patients Coalition, DJ Schanz. The coalition supported Utah’s medical cannabis initiative. “I think we’re good,” Schanz said during an interview with Marijuana Business Daily.

Utah Proposition 2 passes, but qualifying medical conditions are too permissive

Schanz touched upon the subject of Utah’s qualifying medical conditions for cannabis and how he thinks that they are too liberal. Although there was no hint of the particular conditions that are deemed to be too permissive, Schanz says a “pushback” is being felt from individuals who agree with the claims.

The director of Utah’s cannabis initiative has said that his coalition would welcome an increased number of medical cannabis dispensaries, as opposed to the five that proponents requested during the legislative compromise. But will cannabis opponents be willing to compromise?

“We’ll have to see,” Schanz said. “Ideally, we’d like to see 15 to 20 dispensaries in the state,” Schanz said. “I think if we could start out with eight or 10 that would make the program more viable.”

Based on projections from MJBizDaily, Utah’s medical cannabis program will generate annual sales revenue in the range of $15 to $25 million within several years of the program’s inauguration.

Who could legally use medical cannabis in Utah?

Under the rules laid out in the details of Proposition 2, individuals who suffer from certain types of illness will be able to visit a licensed doctors office to apply for a card that they can then use to procure medicinal pot.

The initiative states that a “qualifying condition” for medical cannabis in Utah is defined as one of the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Ulcerative colitis.

It is important to note that, according to the details of Proposition 2, patients who ensure “a condition manifest by physical wasting, nausea, or malnutrition associated with chronic disease” may also qualify to receive medical cannabis in Utah.

In addition to this, individuals who have been diagnosed with a “rare condition or disease” will be able to receive a medical cannabis card in Utah. The same applies for an individual with “chronic or debilitating pain,” but only under circumstances whereby “a physician determines that the individual is at risk of becoming chemically dependent on, or overdosing on, opiate-based pain medication.”

Medical cannabis in Utah: Qualifying patients must receive card within 15 days of application

Individuals who feel that they would benefit from medical cannabis in Utah, but that don’t see their medical condition listed on Proposition 2, need not panic. Exceptions may be permitted by state-appointed boards comprising five doctors known as the “Compassionate Use Board.”

According to the initiative, qualifying individuals will receive their medical cannabis card in Utah within 15 days of filling out an application. Currently, CBD oil is legal in Utah. This oil is rich in a cannabinoid called “cannabidiol”. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is non-psychoactive.