LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS
Is weed legal in Utah?
In Utah, medical cannabis is available to patients with qualifying conditions. Adult-use, or recreational, cannabis remains illegal, and possession of small amounts may result in criminal penalties.
On Nov. 6, 2018, Utah voters approved Proposition 2 , allowing patients to obtain and use medical marijuana and state-licensed facilities to grow, process, test, or sell cannabis for medicinal purposes.
In the weeks leading to Election Day, the fervor generated by Proposition 2 Utah prompted Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah Legislature, and proposition proponents and opponents — including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest religious community in the state — to craft a compromise cannabis law regardless of whether Proposition 2 passed.
The compromise bill called for relaxing medical cannabis card renewal requirements, tightening qualifications for who could be a caregiver or guardian, offering employment protections for patients, and regulating how medical marijuana could be consumed. The legislature passed the compromise bill Dec. 3 2018, and Herbert signed it the same day. It was HB 3001, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act .
Utah has frequently tweaked its medical marijuana laws to loosen some restrictions and tighten others. For example, HB 195, signed in 2018, allowed terminally ill patients to try medicinal marijuana. HB 121, signed in 2020, allowed for the expungement of some cannabis-related convictions and required seed-to-sale tracking, among other things. HB 425, also signed in 2020, waived some ID card requirements to make it easier for patients to purchase medical marijuana during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is in charge of issuing patients medical cannabis cards, registering doctors recommending cannabis, and licensing dispensaries. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) handles cultivation and processing licenses and oversight.
Where is it safe to purchase?
There are six open medical cannabis pharmacies in Utah with another eight licensed and slated to open. Patients 18 and older, a parent or legal guardian of a minor patient, and designated caregivers may purchase medical cannabis. Each must have a medical cannabis card. All cards for patients younger than 21 must be approved by Utah’s Compassionate Use Board.
Cardholders can purchase up to 112 grams (3.95 ounces) of cannabis with up to 19 grams (0.67 ounces) of total THC within a 30-day period. Those are also the maximum possession limits.
Temporary rules in place during 2020 allow patients and caregivers to purchase cannabis from a pharmacy by presenting a letter from the patient’s doctor.
Where is it safe to consume?
Patients must consume their marijuana in private unless it’s a medical emergency. They can’t smoke cannabis anywhere or consume it while driving a vehicle.
In Utah, medical marijuana may be taken as a tablet, capsule, concentrated oil, liquid suspension, skin patch, or a gelatin cube that can be chewed or dissolved. The state also allows the vaping of flower, resin, or wax.
Medical cannabis cardholders can possess up to 112 grams (3.95 ounces) of cannabis within a 30-day period. When transporting or possessing marijuana outside the home, a patient or caregiver must carry their state-issued medical cannabis card.
For those without state-issued medical cannabis cards, possession of less than 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. A second conviction is a class A misdemeanor, while a third or subsequent conviction could result in a third-degree felony.
Possession of 1 ounce to 1 pound is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,500. Possession of more than 1 pound will result in a felony, even for first-time offenders.
View the CBD & cannabis laws & regulations for Utah.
Utah Medical Marijuana
Silver Creek Psychiatry is Currently Authorized to Offer Medical Cannabis (“Medical Marijuana”) .
Silver Creek Psychiatry will now be offering medical cannabis authorization. It is required that an individual seeking a medical cannabis clearance meet with a Utah-licensed MD, DO, PA or an APRN that holds a controlled substance license and can recommend medical cannabis treatment to a patient with a qualifying condition.
Please note that the medical cannabis clearance will not take place on the initial visit. It is required that client have establish pre-existing provider-patient relationship. On the initial visit the assessment will be completed, the individual will be required to return to see the medical provider for Cannabis clearance. After the medical Cannabis clearance has taken place the individual will be required to return 30 days later to assess Cannabis effectiveness. Silver Creek also requires that the individual be seen by a therapist every 3 months to assess if the cannabis is assisting with symptom management. A urine screen will be required at the time of each visit.
Qualifying medical conditions:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
- Persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment, except for nausea related to:
- cannabis-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome
- cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Epilepsy of debilitating seizures
- Multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) this is being treated and monitored by a licensed health therapist that:
- has been diagnosed by a healthcare provider by the Veterans Administration and documented in the patients record; or
- has been diagnosed or confirmed by evaluation form a psychiatrist, doctorate psychologist, a doctorate licensed clinical social worker, or a psychiatric APRN.
- A terminal illness when the patient’s 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 U.S, as defined in federal law, ad that is not adequately managed, in the qualified medical providers opinion, despite treatment attempts using conventional medications (other than opioids or opiates) or physical interventions.
- A condition that the compassionate use board approves (once established) on a case-by- case basis.
Once you have procured your medical cannabis clearance you will be required to utilize a medical cannabis/pharmacy. Medical cannabis will only be available in the following forms under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act:
- Concentrated oil
- Liquid suspension
- Transdermal preparation
- Gelatinous cubes
- Unprocessed cannabis flower in a blister pack containing no more than one gram of lower pods in each individual blister
- Wax on resin
- Smoking of cannabis is not permitted, but patients may purchase a medical cannabis device that warms cannabis material into a vapor without the use of flame and delivers cannabis to an individual’s respiratory system ( such as an electric dabbing rig) Although smoking of medical cannabis is prohibited, vaping is legal
The law prohibits candies, cookies, brownies, and other editable products. Unprocessed flowers outside of blister packs are not prohibited.
How much medical cannabis are qualifying patients allowed to possess at one time?
A qualifying patient may not possess:
- More than 115 grams of unprocessed cannabis ( raw bud or flowered in blister packs)
- Any cannabis product that contains greater than 20 grams of total composite THC
Please be informed that there are some safety concerns when using cannabis, including:
- Impaired short-term memory and the ability to concentrate, making it harder to think and stay on task.
- Altering judgment and decision-making
- Reducing reaction time. Increasing drowsiness, and impaired concentration
- Triggering anxiety, psychiatric disorders, and worsened mood:
- Causing cannabis use disorder, also known as cannabis or marijuana addiction
- Altering the developing brain in adolescents, which may result in long-lasting consequences on behavior and reasoning: and
- Increasing health risk to fetuses and newborns if used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Please be advised that currently there are not facilities in Utah that are licensed to legally sell medical cannabis. By March 2020, the Utah Department of health will have licensed up to seven privately-operated medical cannabis pharmacies where qualifying patients can legally purchase medical cannabis in Utah.
What is medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana or medical cannabis refers to the use of unprocessed marijuana plants, it’s basic extracts or unaltered chemical elements for the treatment of illness. The FDA has not recognized or approved marijuana as medicine, however many scientific studies of marijuana’s chemicals have been introduced into several approved medications called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemicals provided in pill form and the continued research could lead to many more medications.
The FDA requires carefully conducted studies in official clinical trials with hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far there have not been enough clinical trials with enough subjects to show the benefits of medical marijuana outweigh its risks. However, the cannabinoid ingredients derived have passed through their rigorous testing and have been determined to be effective for treating certain conditions and illnesses.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are chemicals which are naturally occurring in the marijuana plant and are related to the chemical commonly known as THC which causes mind-altering euphoria which is what causes the sense of being high while using marijuana. The marijuana plant contains over a hundred cannabinoids, some of which are incredibly powerful. Synthetic cannabinoids known as K2 or spice are chemically created cannabinoids which have led to serious health effects when misused. It was also found by the CDC in 2019 that the vaping of unregulated THC contributed to major lung disease and even death. The manufacturing of synthetic cannabinoids has been performed by both legal and illegal scientist manufactures which has had a large impact on the production and regulation in the United States. Although medications have been created which are FDA approved that contain cannabinoids, their use is still limited and under testing.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the large number of naturally occurring cannabinoids which are present in marijuana is that the human body produces its own cannabinoid chemicals. These chemicals are essential to our function and have a large impact on our physical and mental well being. The body uses cannabinoids to regulate pleasure, memory, body movement, concentration, sense of time, appetite, pain, and our basic five senses which allow us to interact with the world.
Due to our bodies natural dependency on naturally produced cannabinoids, this has lead to many tests and considerations concerning the usefulness of cannabinoids and in correlation medical marijuana for effective medicines and treatments.
Medical Marijuana and Cannabis usefulness
Of the vast array of cannabinoid chemicals found in Marijana, there are two major leaders which are of major medical interest. The first is THC and the second is known as CBD. They are not uncommon names to anyone who knows even a small amount about the medical applications and research of medical marijuana.
THC has shown that it can affect the body by increasing appetite and reducing nausea. It’s other uses include decreased pain and inflammation, a reduction in swelling and redness to injuries, and assist with muscle control problems.
CBD may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling seizures caused by epilepsy, and even an array of mental illnesses or addictions. CBD is distinguishable from THC because it does not make people high. As a result it has not become popular in recreational marijana or cannabinoid use where allowed. As well, CBD-based liquid medications have been approved by the FDA for specific treatments.
Ongoing studies being conducted currently show marijana extracts usefulness when treating certain cancers by reducing or slowing growth. Other preclinical and clinical trials centered around marijuana usage and marijana extracts show potential ability to treat symptoms of illness such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Substance use disorders
- Mental disorders
Testing is still ongoing and the use of medical marijuana is still regulated and any use of the unaltered plant or its extracts should be taken in correlation with a licenced physicians directives and prescription.
Medical Marijana’s effect on Opioid Death
A Marijana Research Report funded by the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) performed a federal study regarding the rates of opioid overdose that lead to death from 1999 to 2010 in states which allowed medical marijuana and states that did not. With the growing use of medical marijuana, knowing the impact it has is becoming increasingly crucial. They reported data from states that provided medical cannabis alternatives experienced slower rates of increase over time of opioid overdose than states which did not have laws providing access to such alternatives.
The NIDA conducted a further analysis in 2019 when they re-examined the relationship between overdose and access to medical marijuana by adding data collected through 2017. The updated data only further showed that the rate was even lower than originally concluded. The research showed that the death rate shifted from 21 percent to almost 23 percent lower in states that allowed medical marijuana usage.
These studies did not conclude that states with more restrictive laws, laws which only permitted marijuana with low tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations vs laws which permitted higher concentrations, experienced any difference in opioid overdose rates. Further research is still needed to determine the exact relationship of marijuana alternatives to opioids, but with the growing number of cases in the state of Utah of opioid overdose, addiction, and dependency, further research will continue to provide more information for the best treatment of individuals who need strong medications to treat illness and other medical conditions.
Marijuana vs Hemp Vs Cannabis: What is the difference?
The answer is rather simple and its reason for misunderstanding can be blamed on the array of products and uses for one over the other. The plant under U.S. law has been classified as cannabis which is the botanical name for the plant. Hemp is the name associated with the seeds, stems, stalks and roots of the plant while Marijuana is in reference to the leaf of the cannabis plant.
Hemp is commonly used in products such as rope and lotions which are available unrestricted for purchase all around the world. Marijuana leaf which is often used as a recreational drug is either illegal or heavily regulated in the United States for specific purposes. It’s medical use, which is commonly referred to as medical marijuana is commonly defined by its parent name, cannabis. This is why cannabis dispensaries or medical cannabis is a related term when speaking about medical marijuana, both referring to the same thing.
Types of Medical Marijuana in Utah
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act approved a specific list of forms which may be offered for use in the state. The types of medical marijuana available include:
- Concentrated Oil
- Liquid suspension
- Popical preparation
- Transdermal preparation
- Gelatinous cube
- Unprocessed cannabis flower (sealed with a 60-day expiration)
The smoking of cannabis is not permitted under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act and the smoking of Marijuana is also strictly prohibited by the same law. Medical cannabis devices which create a vapor from warmed cannabis material in order to deliver the cannabis to the respiratory system is allowed; with the stipulation that the medical device creates the vapor without the use of a flame. With the expectation of the listed gelatinous cube, other common edible products such as candies, cookies, brownies, unprocessed flowers, ect. Are not permitted under the Utah Code 26-61a-102.
Utah Medical Marijana Programs
The Utah Medical Cannabis Program begins with proper production and licensed providers to serve Utah patients in need. Under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, there are a range of individuals who have specific conditions that are authorised to see a physician about a medical cannabis patient card.
The conditions approved by Utah State law for the prescription and usage of medical marijua include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Persistent nausea that is not responsive to traditional treatment.
- Exceptions include: pregnancy, cannabis-induced cyclic vomiting syndrome, or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Epilepsy or debilitating seizures
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Persistent/debilitating muscle spasms
- PTSD which is being mentored by a therapist
- Stipulations: Diagnosis by a healthcare provider, psychiatrist evaluation, Veterans Administration healthcare provider, doctorate psychologist, or psychiatric APRN.
- Terminal illness with less than six month life expectancy estimation
- Hospice inducing condition
- Chronic pain, when other alternatives prove ineffective.
- A rare condition or disease which less than 200,000 individuals affected.
It is possible for a condition other than what is approved by the law itself may be approved by the compassionate use board, but only after their approval which is considered and established on a case-by-case basis.
The use of medical marijuana is still unrecognized by the FDA and is not legal in all U.S. states. Each state has their own laws and regulations regarding the production, prescription, distribution, and use of the product(s). It is important to understand the laws of the States
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act is strict with the allowed use of medical marijuana and the system in place regulates the process from beginning to end. This means from the production to processing of the cannabis plant, to the prescription of the medical cannabis from a licenced physician, to its distribution are all regulated and controlled to maintain the highest level of quality.
Utah’s medical marijuana program is state wide and qualifying patients can be approved and issued a medical cannabis/medical marijuana card. This card allows the patient to use a medical cannabis dispensary or medical marijuna pharmacy. The state law has not permitted dispensaries for cannabis alone to provide the approved medical marijuana without state registration and no marijuana products are available for recreational use. It still remains illegal to provide anyone without a prescription any medical marijuana or cannabis product and the prescription should be held in the same regard as any other medical prescription for a restricted medication issued to you by a doctor. The Utah department of health ensured medical cannabis products are provided under Utah law and that a marijuana pharmacy provides cannabis products as directed.
Utah Medical Marijuana Pharmacies
By December 31, 2020, all fourteen approved pharmacies which were given licenses by the Utah Department of Health should be open. Additional state pharmacies will have approved medication available beginning in July.
Medical Marijuana Card Evaluation and Application
Every case must be reviewed and evaluated by a qualified medical provider (QMP) before approval. The Utah Department of Health offers an electronic verification system which allows you to apply for your medical cannabis card once the approval has been issued by a QMP.
The state application fee is $15 and takes 15 days or less to be processed. The processing period and review can very from person to person and applicants and patients under the age of 21 may wait up to 90 days for the application to be approved. Once the application has been approved and processed, the card will be issued via email. The digital card is accessible with any smartphone and may be printed out for use.
MMJ cards must be renewed every 90 days and each renewal comes with an individual renewal fee. The first 90-day renewal fee will only be $5, but each subsequent renewal will be $15. Any caregiver assigned to a qualifying patient must also register with the Utah Department of Health. Caregivers are given cards which automatically renew. This automatic renewal is granted by the Medical Cannabis Patient or Guardian Card under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. These cards have individual fees and a criminal background check is required for all applicants.
Quantity Restrictions of Medical Cannabis in Utah
The amount of medical marijuana you are allowed to purchase at a time from a medical cannabis pharmacy or local health department depends on the location of your residency from a qualifying pharmacy. Those who live less than 100 miles from any location which provides medical cannabis are allowed only to obtain sufficient amounts to cover 14 days of treatment based on the dosing parameters issued by a QMP.
However, any patient who has a cannabis card may only possess 113 grams of unprocessed cannabis (flower) or less. If the patient is using other medicinal dosage forms, they are allowed no more than 20 grams of THC total at a time.
Silver Creek Clinic is legally licensed to prescribe Utah medical marijuana. We want to make sure you have as many options for your treatment as possible.