Utah voters approved a medical cannabis initiative on Tuesday. Technically, Utah already had a CBD-only medical cannabis law on the books, but it is basically useless and most cannabis advocates do not consider it to be a true medical cannabis law.
What was approved on Tuesday was a dramatic improvement, and pushed Utah into the ‘medical cannabis state category’ in the eyes of most cannabis advocates. When does the law take effect? It’s going to be tough to make any definitive statements on Utah’s implementation timeline due to the political factors at play.
Utah lawmakers have made it very clear that they intend to make changes to the law, and what exactly that will end up looking like when the dust settles is anyone’s guess. But for what it’s worth, the Utah Department of Health published information about implementation this week that may serve as a guide.
The Utah Department of Health will be responsible for issuing medical cannabis cards to patients, registering physicians who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment for their patients, and licensing medical cannabis pharmacies (called dispensaries in Proposition 2).
However, none of these activities are taking place at this time. Most key elements of the compromise legislation and Proposition 2 are required to be implemented by March 1, 2020.
Regardless of which medical cannabis program is implemented, the Utah Department of Health can share the following information:
Medical Cannabis Cardholders: Medical cannabis treatment will be allowed for patients with certain qualifying conditions. The Utah Department of Health is required to begin accepting applications for medical cannabis patient cards by March 1, 2020.
Medical Cannabis Distribution: The Utah Department of Health is required to begin accepting applications to operate medical cannabis pharmacies (called cannabis dispensaries in Proposition 2) by March 1, 2020.
Physicians: Proposition 2 and the compromise legislation contain differences on which medical providers can recommend medical cannabis treatment. Under both the compromise legislation and Proposition 2, providers will recommend treatment through an Electronic Verification System (EVS). The Utah Department of Health is required to have the EVS operational by March 1, 2020.
Cannabis cultivators and processors: The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food retains authority over cannabis cultivation and processing in both the compromise legislation and Proposition 2.