#PropWatch

Protecting the Will of the People

Medical Cannabis

Proposition 2

Following the certification of Proposition 2, the “Utah Medical Cannabis Act,” to the November 2018 ballot, opposition groups and individuals banded together to form Drug Safe Utah. Claiming support for medical cannabis but not the provisions of the proposition, the group began gaining significant traction in the polls once the LDS Church joined and urged its members to vote against the proposition. 

Hoping to head off a well-funded opposition campaign, backers of Proposition 2 began negotiating with Drug Safe Utah and legislative leaders to form a piece of legislation that could serve as a compromise and answer the concerns of opposing groups. The Legislature met in special session on Monday December 3, during which they passed the compromise legislation, entitled the “Utah Medical Cannabis Act. The Governor signed the bill into law soon after. The differences between the Proposition and the compromise can be found below.

Proposition 2 vs. The Compromise

Proposition 2

Utah Department of Agriculture will issue up to 15 licenses for private “cannabis cultivation facilities” to grow cannabis. Private “cannabis production facilities” will then process the cannabis into medical dosages. Cardholders living more than 100 miles from a dispensary can grow up to 6 plants for personal medical use.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Keeps the same process for cultivation and production, but removes the provision for personal growing of plants.

Proposition 2

Private dispensaries will be licensed by the Department of Agriculture to sell medical cannabis. The Department can issue licenses for at least one dispensary in every county, with additional licenses available in larger counties for every 150K people. Dispensaries cannot advertise, except for a green cross outside the establishment.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Creates a state central fill medical cannabis pharmacy. There would then be two ways through which medical cannabis would be distributed, the first of which is through up to 13 local health departments funded by the counties. Because they are funded by the counties, there is the possibility they would never be opened.

The Department can also license 7-10 private medical cannabis pharmacies, each of which must employ a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacists must comply with continuing education requirements.

Proposition 2

Among others, the proposition would cover HIV, AIDS, other autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, MS, PTSD, autism, rare diseases, chronic pain, opiate addiction or allergy, and other individual cases as determined by Compassionate Use Board.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Removes “other autoimmune disorders” (including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and IBS), Guillain-Barré, Graves’ disease, and vasculitis.

The compromise adds use of cannabis in hospice care and clarifies that “chronic pain” is pain that doesn’t go away for over two weeks despite other treatments, excluding opioids. 

Proposition 2

A broad range of physicians can recommend use of cannabis for qualifying patients, who must then register for a medical cannabis card. Cards are valid for 6 months.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Doctors (M.D.s and D.O.s), advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants can recommend medical cannabis.

Psychiatrists, Ph.D. psychologists, Ph.D. LCSWs, and advanced practice registered nurses with psychiatric experience can diagnose PTSD. Patients with PTSD must also be getting mental health therapy.

Physicians must recommend specific dosage and treatment, and must comply with continuing education.

Cards are valid for 6 months, but can be renewed with a fee.

Proposition 2

Physician recommends patient for a medical cannabis card and can recommend dosage. Patient applies for card in physician’s office via electronic verification system. Department of Health issues card within 15 days. Patient can buy up to the max amount of medical cannabis in various forms from a dispensary.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Physician recommends patient for a medical cannabis card with specific dosage. Patient applies for card in physician’s office via electronic verification system. Department of Health issues card within 15 days. Patient can retrieve specific dosage of cannabis from special pharmacy.

Proposition 2

In any given 14 day period, cardholders can possess up to 2 oz. of unprocessed cannabis or products containing up to 14 grams of THC. Vaping and edibles are allowed, but smoking is prohibited.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Dosage amount would match the amount recommended by the treating physician: up to 113 grams unprocessed cannabis or product containing no more than 20 grams THC. Edibles are prohibited, other than a lozenge or gummy. Unprocessed flower will come in blister packs of one dose (one gram max) each.

Proposition 2

Patients must be 18 to be eligible for a medical cannabis card. Parents or guardians of a minor patient can apply for a medical cannabis card.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Minors are issued provisional patient cards, and guardians are issued guardian cards.

Physician recommendations for medical cannabis cards for minors must be approved by Compassionate Use Board.

Proposition 2

Affirmative defense for cannabis possession until legislation in effect.

Records retained for only 60 days.

Dispensaries may give free samples to cardholders.

Anti-discrimination provision protecting tenants.

Prohibits working with federal law enforcement when state medical cannabis laws are not being broken.

Utah Medical Cannabis Act

Removes provisions on destroying records, free samples, and tenant anti-discrimination.

Patient must have card on their person whenever in possession of medical cannabis.

If no medical cannabis pharmacies are operating by 2021, a cardholder cannot be prosecuted for having 113 grams of cannabis or product with 20 grams THC in dosage form.