Utah was the 33rd state to legalize medical marijuana. That legislation was passed in 2018, but it wasn’t until the first week of March this year that Utah’s medical marijuana patients have had legal access to medical cannabis.
Dragonfly Wellness in Salt Lake City was the first pharmacy to open its doors.
Since then, True North’s Perfect Earth Modern Apothecary has opened two locations, one in Logan and one in Ogden. Fourteen pharmacies in all are permitted under Utah law, while eight companies (including one currently in the plans for Weber County) have been licensed.
The program had a somewhat rocky start but things are getting better. An initial backup in issuing cannabis cards, for instance, is getting addressed. Since late March, the number of medical cannabis cards issued to Utahns has grown to 3,013 — up from 1,076 in late March, according to Richard Oborn, director of the UDOH’s Center for Medical Cannabis.
There are four types of medical cannabis cards available in the State of Utah: patient cards, guardian cards, provisional patient cards, and caregiver cards.
- Patient Cards: Patients 18 years of age and older. Patients under 21 must have approval from the Compassionate Use Board.
- Guardian Cards: Parents or legal guardians of minors who are eligible to consume medical cannabis. These cards are issued in conjunction with provisional patient cards.
- Provisional Patient Cards: Minors under the age of 18 who meet the eligibility requirements to consume medical cannabis. These are issued in conjunction with guardian cards. All provisional patient cards must have approval from the Compassionate Use Board.
- Caregiver Cards: Adults 21 years of age and older who care for patient cardholders who are unable to procure or consume medical cannabis on their own. Caregivers must be designated by the patient cardholders they will be assisting.
The number of qualified medical providers who can recommend use of medical cannabis is growing, as well. The number of QMPs has reached 292 — up from 203 in late March. Desiree Hennessy, executive director of the Utah Patients Coalition, told the Standard-Examiner that the lack of medical providers is a lingering issue. Some physicians “just don’t feel they have enough information” to knowledgeably advise those seeking medical cannabis recommendations, she said. “We need more. It’s too few. I would like it to become more of a mainstream practice.” she continued.
How do I get access to medical marijuana in Utah?
- Find a medical provider who is registered to recommend medical cannabis. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has a list of medical providers who are registered as “qualified medical providers” (QMPs).
- Schedule an appointment and consult with your QMP.
- Review the electronic verification system (EVS) instructional user guides to apply online for a card.
- Your QMP will then issue a recommendation online.
- Pay the medical cannabis card application fee online. Fees vary from $5 to $66.25 depending on the type of card.
- UDOH then completes the card application review. It takes about fifteen (15) days for patients 21+ with a qualifying condition; and about ninety (90) days for those under 21 years of age or adults without a qualifying condition.
- When the review is completed, you will receive your medical cannabis card, allowing you to purchase product from a medical cannabis pharmacy.
- Once issued, cards are valid for 30 days and need to be renewed by a certified medical provider. After that 30-day period, the cards need to be renewed every six months.
I have a recommendation letter. Do I still need a card?
Qualifying patients who do not have a medical cannabis card but have a “recommendation letter” from their medical provider may purchase medical cannabis from a medical cannabis pharmacy until December 31, 2020. Restrictions do apply, e.g., the ability to only purchase from one pharmacy. Beginning January 1, 2021, a patient must obtain a medical cannabis card in order to be able to obtain purchase medical cannabis legally.
COVID Update – MMJ and Utah
Utah’s medical cannabis pharmacies are considered essential and are remaining open through the coronavirus pandemic. Pharmacies are creating a safe environment for customers and staff by enforcing social distancing and enforcing good hygiene. Employees are expected to wear face coverings; patients and caregivers are strongly encouraged to do so, as well. You should also be prepared for longer wait times since the number of patients permitted inside the pharmacy at any one time is limited.