Despite its conservative background, the voters of Utah embraced the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes by approving Proposition 2 in November 2018. Concerned the proposal lacks “proper control,” lawmakers are working on a compromise bill with more restrictions.
Recreational Marijuana Laws in Utah
Possession of marijuana in Utah is illegal. Persons caught with up to a pound of marijuana face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Possession of more than a pound of marijuana is a felony, which can result in up to 15 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. The state of Utah does not have conditional release policies, which give first time offenders in other states a reprieve, or mandatory minimums in place.
Medical Marijuana Laws in Utah
Medical marijuana was legalized in Utah after voters approved Proposition 2 in the November 2018 election. The new law allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to legally grow, buy, and consume cannabis.
The law limits cannabis products to vaping, edibles, oils, and topicals. Smoking marijuana is prohibited. The law also allows registered patients to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal medical use, provided the patient lives more than 100 miles from a licensed dispensary.
Doctor’s can recommend cannabis to patients diagnosed with the following conditions:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The details of Utah’s medical cannabis law are subject to change. In the lead-up to the election, Utah lawmakers, officials with the Mormon Church and the campaign group responsible for Proposition 2 agreed to compromise legislation that imposes more restrictions. The compromise legislation is expected to remove some qualifying conditions, require that doctors get certain training prior to being able to recommend cannabis, ban home cultivation, and prohibit edibles. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has announced he will hold a special session to pass the agreement, regardless of Proposition 2 passing.
Prior to the medical cannabis ballot initiative passing, Utah had in place a hemp CBD-extract only medical cannabis law. This extremely limited and highly restrictive medical cannabis law, enacted on July 1, 2014, only applies to patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy who are certified for treatment by a neurologist. Under the law, qualified patients can legally access cannabis extracts that contain less than 0.3% THC and 15% or more CBD by weight. Unfortunately, the law provides no direction for how the cannabis oil should be obtained, as it’s still illegal to produce in the state. While this law does bring relief to a small segment of potential medical marijuana users, a much greater population is still looking for relief.
In 2018, the Utah State Legislature approved a series of “right to try” medical marijuana laws that will allow patients with less than six months to live to legally obtain and consume medical-grade marijuana. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food will grow the cannabis, likely with the assistance of a third-party vendor, and handle its distribution. Officials are still finalizing the program’s rules.
CBD from Hemp Oil in Utah
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Hemp in Utah
The cultivation of cannabis for personal use remains illegal in Utah. Under Proposition 2, registered medical marijuana patients who live more than 100 miles from a licensed dispensary can grow up to six plants. Those permissions may be removed with the passing of a new compromise medical cannabis bill.
In 2014, the state did pass a bill that allows for the state’s Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. The program allows licensed growers to cultivate cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC.
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