Over the past year, Libertas Institute has been meeting with patients, attorneys, members of industry, regulators, and advocates to identify additional ways to improve the medical cannabis law within the limits of political reality.
The resulting changes for which we were able to build consensus were sponsored by Senator Evan Vickers in Senate Bill 121. A companion bill, House Bill 425 sponsored by Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost, contained additional modifications.
In total, here are the following key changes made between these two bills:
- Drivers will no longer be criminalized for having an inactive cannabis metabolite in their system.
- Blister packs are no longer required to contain unprocessed cannabis flower; glass or plastic containers can be used.
- With a warrant, law enforcement can only access the patient system to determine if an individual is an active patient or not.
- Limits have been increased for the number of patients to whom a medical provider can provide a medical cannabis recommendation. General practitioners can issue 275 recommendations (up from 175) while certified specialists can do 600 (up from 500).
- A CBD user who fails a drug test because of trace amount of THC in their body will be held harmless unless there is evidence that the individual illegally possessed or used THC.
- When a patient receives their medical cannabis card, the first doctor renewal must be within 90 days, rather than 30 days as before.
- A patient who has been on medical cannabis for over a year can have their renewal extended out to one year rather than six months.
- Patients convicted of marijuana use before Proposition 2 can seek expungement of their crime under certain circumstances.
- Dosing parameters are modified to instead be guidelines for more physician/patient flexibility in finding the proper balance of cannabis use.
- For the remainder of 2020, patients can use their informal recommendation letters to make purchases from a medical cannabis pharmacy.
- CBD products obtained outside of Utah are explicitly legalized; previously only in-state verified products could be sold or used by Utahns.
- Medical cannabis patients visiting from another state will have the ability to purchase their medicine in Utah facilities—two times for 21 days each (they can be consecutive).
- Medical cannabis users are exempt from a prohibition on carrying a dangerous weapon while in possession of a controlled substance.
There are a number of additional changes contained in these two bills that are less relevant to end users. For example: additional universities have the opportunity to research cannabis; the hemp industry can sell product into the medical cannabis industry via a cultivator licensee; any individual can assist a medical cannabis user during an emergency with their medicine; cultivators can grow in up to two locations, rather than one; cultivators can stack their grows to economize space; and much more.
Both bills passed through the entire legislature unanimously.
We will continue to monitor the program’s rollout and work with our partners at the Utah Patients Coalition to determine additional possible reforms that will further improve the program in the short and long term.