On December 3, 2018, Utah lawmakers passed House Bill 3001: Utah Medical Cannabis Act. The Act is intended to be fully implemented by March. Utah is not having a free for all with cannabis dispensaries on every corner, a common occurrence in some areas of Colorado. Unlike “The Green Mile” in Denver which has 16 cannabis dispensaries, Utah has only granted 14 locations across the entire state. On January 3, 2020, Utah announced the ten businesses awarded licenses. No applicant was permitted to be licensed to operate more than two medical cannabis pharmacies. With scaffolded grand openings, 8 locations may open after March 1 and the other 6 can open after July 1.
Access to Medical Cannabis
Divided into 4 geographical regions, the Utah Department of Health was confident in statewide access to medical cannabis for patients. However, large parts of the state are still left without a pharmacy. Over 150 applications were submitted. The applications were evaluated and scored by an evaluation committee based on several criteria. The criteria included:
- experience in the medical cannabis or other highly regulated industries,
- disciplinary action or investigation in other jurisdictions,
- an operating plan that will best ensure the safety and security of cardholders and the community,
- the extent to which an applicant can reduce the cost of medical cannabis,
- connections to the local community,
- and a strategic plan that has a high likelihood of success.
With 3 locations set for Salt Lake City, some residents are fearing a cannabis pharmacy desert in more rural regions. According to the Utah Department of Health Medical Cannabis pharmacy licensees will pay an annual fee of $50,000-$69,500 depending upon the type of license they received and the physical location of the pharmacy. However, patients who do live a long distance from a medical cannabis pharmacy may prefer to order from the state central patient portal online, or by phone and conveniently have their shipment of medical cannabis delivered to their homes.
Allowed Cannabis Consumption Methods
According to Utah’s Medical Cannabis Act, the smoking of medical cannabis is strictly prohibited. However, vaping is completely legal. The law prohibits candies, cookies, brownies, and other edible products; as well as cannabis flower containing more than one gram of flower pods in each individual blister pack. Medical cannabis will only be available in the following forms under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act: tablet, capsule, concentrated oil, liquid suspension, transdermal preparation, gelatinous cube, unprocessed cannabis flower in a blister pack, and with special recommendations: wax or resin.
Out of State Medical Cannabis Patients Visiting Utah
Beginning in March 2020, there will be four types of medical cannabis cards. These will include patient cards, guardian cards, provisional patient cards, and caregiver cards. The Department of Health has not yet set the fee for obtaining a medical cannabis card. A medical cannabis cardholder visiting from another state may use medical cannabis in Utah as long as the patient has one of the qualifying conditions listed in Utah law. In addition, the cardholder must possess medical cannabis within Utah’s legal medicinal dosage form and amount.