2019 Bills

SB 161: Medical Cannabis Minor Fixes

This bill passed the Senate and House unanimously. 

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

In December, the Legislature enacted HB 3001, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act which revised Prop 2, passed by Utah voters. In the weeks since, we along with some legislators have identified a few minor fixes that need to be made; major policy proposals are being deferred until next year, per the agreement we made before negotiating with Prop 2’s opposition.

Senator Luz Escamilla is sponsoring Senate Bill 161 to enact these changes, which include the following:

  • Requires medical cannabis to be tested by an inspection facility before a processing company can purchase it from a cultivator.
  • Eliminates the requirement that a barcode connected to an inventory control system is needed on a blister pack before the system is online and available (since that requirement is not possible to obey during this interim period).
  • Requires Senate confirmation of Compassionate Use Board members.
  • Modifies a prohibition for recommending cannabis unless you are a qualified medical provider; these physician permits won’t be available for another year, so this tweak clarifies that any physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant can recommend medical cannabis to patients right now without needing a permit as a qualified medical provider.
  • Prohibits the government from punishing an employee at a county health department who might wish to abstain from being involved in medical cannabis distribution in violation of federal law.
  • Eliminates a restriction included by Prop 2 opponents at the last minute, after negotiations were complete, that says a court can discriminate against a medical cannabis user in a child custody case if their medical cannabis use “relates to that parent’s ability to care for a child.”
  • Extends the current legal protection for patients to parents and spouses as well, so that these loved ones can be protected in transporting cannabis from another state or location to their patient family member who may not be able to do so themselves.

These important fixes will help ensure that the existing legal protections in place are functional and reasonable, while patients wait for the industry and regulatory system to come online.