Policy Recommendations Utah

2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations for Utah

Utah made considerable strides in 2019 and 2020 to improve access and protections for cannabis patients. State lawmakers approved legislation (SB 1002) in 2019, which increased the number of medical cannabis businesses authorized to dispense cannabis from 7 to 14. In March of 2020, the first medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors.

Before turning to COVID emergency response legislation, Utah enacted SB 161 SB 121, and HB 425. This package of legislation prohibits discrimiation against cannabis patients in family court proceedings, protects patients who are state employees, allows physicians to maintain a higher caseload of cannabis patients and authorizes reciprocity for out-of-state patients visiting Utah. The measures also provide for expungement of cannabis-related criminal records before the 2018 passage of Proposition 2, modify dosing parameters to give doctors greater flexibility in determining the best treatment options for patients, and extend the active period of state medical patient cards.52

State COVID emergency response measures included authorizing medical cannabis businesses to continue operating and permitted patients to obtain a recommendation letter from a physician rather than apply and wait for a state-issued program ID card.

Beyond permanently maintaining COVID program features, ASA recommends that Utah work to address product supply shortages that have plagued the state's medical cannabis program since it launched earlier this year. The state should also work to fix technology issues that have led to repeated crashes of the software that regulates the program. ASA encourages Utah to expand laboratory licensing and increase the number of licensed medical cannabis retailers to ensure patients have sufficient access.