To possess or use marijuana legally in Utah, you need to have a valid medical cannabis card issued by the Utah Department of Health. In 2018, state lawmakers approved the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, allowing the use of cannabis among cardholders. The medical marijuana ballot initiative gives Utah patients a means to obtain and use medical cannabis products when conventional medications or other treatment attempts fail – and without the threat of legal repercussions.
The Utah Department of Health maintains a database of about 15 qualifying conditions that make you eligible for a medical cannabis card. Some common conditions that appear on it include cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, and, in some cases, chronic pain. The list of qualifying conditions is viewable in its entirety on the department website.
If your condition does not appear on the Utah Department of Health’s database of qualifying conditions, this does not necessarily mean you will not be able to secure a Utah medical marijuana card through the state’s medical cannabis program. In this case, you have the option of petitioning the department’s Compassionate Use Board, which reviews such requests on a case-by-case basis.
Requirements to Get Your Card
There is a specific process involved in securing your Utah medical cannabis card. To do so, you must:
- Live in Utah
- Have one or more qualifying conditions (or receive individual approval from the Compassionate Use Board)
- Complete and submit an online application
- Complete an in-person visit with a qualified medical provider (QMP) approved by the Utah Department of Health
- Have that provider certify you eligible for medical cannabis online
- Pay the application fee
It is important to note that the Utah Department of Health is the only entity that may issue a valid medical cannabis card. Without one, possessing cannabis, cannabis products, or unprocessed cannabis may lead to criminal charges.
It is also worth noting that, while medical marijuana is legal with a valid card, private Utah employers do not have to allow for its use. This is true even as the cannabis industry becomes increasingly popular and even when employees hold valid patient cards. If you undergo drug testing through your employment and test positive for marijuana use, the employer can penalize or terminate you for it – even if you hold a valid MMJ card.
Finding a Qualified Medical Provider
When you have a qualifying condition, you need to have a Qualified Medical Provider attest that your medical condition warrants your use of medical marijuana. The Utah Department of Health keeps track of QMPs registered with the state and frequently updates its QMP database.
The Application Process
Once you find a medical provider, meet the provider in person, and have them certify you eligible for medical marijuana, you must pay the initial $15 application fee online. If you are 21 or older and have a qualifying condition, anticipate a response from the department of health within 15 days of the date you apply. If you do not have a qualifying condition or are under 21, processing your application may take up to 90 days to allow time for review by the Compassionate Use Board.
Utah’s Legalization History
Unlike the growing number of other states, Utah lawmakers have not yet approved recreational marijuana for use within state lines. Utah passed its medical marijuana ballot measure in 2018, allowing for the use and possession of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products for patients with qualifying medical illnesses.
The state’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors in early March of 2020, following approval by Utah voters. Since then, several others have opened in various parts of the state. Until the end of 2020, you would have been able to purchase medical cannabis from one designated medical cannabis pharmacy with a recommendation letter from a medical provider or doctorate psychologist rather than a card issued by the Utah Department of Health. However, beginning January 2021, a recommendation letter from a medical provider no longer enables you to make purchases from a marijuana pharmacy.
The laws, rules, and guidelines surrounding marijuana possession and use in Utah continue to undergo rapid change. So, it is critical that patients, prospective patients, growers, and dispensary owners stay abreast of them. The passage of Senate Bill 121, which makes a number of adjustments to medical marijuana guidelines and the state’s medical cannabis program, is one such example. The Mormon church updating its policies to allow for the use of the product in limited circumstances is another.
For the time being, though, the only way to use or possess cannabis legally and avoid marijuana charges is to become a qualifying patient and obtain a valid medical card.