The State of Utah
Current Law Pertaining to Medical Marijuana
In the State of Utah, in alignment with Federal Law, Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug, carrying a penalty of 6 months to 15 years in prison if convicted of possession (including paraphernalia) of less than one ounce to 15 pounds respectively and mandatory sentence of 5 years if convicted of selling marijuana.
In 2014, the State Legislature adopted a legislative measure providing an exception for patients diagnosed with severe intractable epileptic seizures to use Low-THC/High CBD cannabidiols extracted from Hemp plant varieties for treatment. However, this exception did not apply to patients, including children, suffering from other severe conditions that would otherwise benefit from CBD therapies. The measure did not prevent prosecution of caregivers and made no provisions for access (i.e. growing plants or dispensaries).
Medical patients who qualify under the law are required to register for “tax stamps” that identify them as qualified patients and doctors recommending CBD treatment must also register by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2015, ballot measures and other legislation was introduced to broaden the medical use of cannabis to other patients that would benefit, but all fell short of required votes to either pass legislation or qualify for a ballot measure.
The Utah Medical Association supports broad medical use, but the Mormon Church has publicly condemned such legislation, which has influenced both public perception and legislative action.
Current Law Pertaining to Hemp:
Cultivation of Hemp, a variety of sativa L. cannabis with less than 1% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been authorized by the state for industry or research purposes only.
S.B.0073 – Medical Cannabis Act – Awaiting 2nd Reading
On February 4, 2016, Senator Mark B. Madsen introduced S.B. 0073, the Medical Cannabis Act, which would lift some of the restrictions and be more aligned with 23 other states that have legalized broad use of “whole plant”cannabis for medical treatment as recommended by physicians. S.B. 0073 has received recommendation from the Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee and is scheduled for a second reading in the next session. This bill is endorsed by the Utah Medical Association and strongly opposed by the Mormon Church.
S.B.0089 – Medical Cannabidiol Amendments – Awaiting 2nd reading
On January 26, 2016, Senators Evan J. Vickers and Brad M. Draw introduced S.B.0089, which expands upon current Cannabidiol legislation enacting provisions that would include other severe medical conditions not included in original legislation. This would also tighten regulation and registration of doctors and patients. S.B.0089 received recommendation from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is scheduled for a second reading in the next session. This bill is endorsed by the Mormon Church, and opponents argue it is not broad enough to benefit all patients that require Medical Marijuana treatment.
S.C.R. 11 – Concurrent Resolution and Appeal to Congress to Reclassify Medical Cannabis as a Schedule II Drug – Currently in Committee
On February 9, 2016, Senator Brian E. Shiozawa sponsored S.C.R. 11, a resolution to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug in the State of Utah and concurrently urge Congress to do the same. The bill, which has the endorsement of the Utah Governor, was introduced to the Senate Rules Committee and has been sent to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for review.
By changing federal classification of marijuana from a Schedule I narcotic to a Schedule II drug if successful, S.C.R. 11 would pave the way for passage of S.B.0073 to expand use of medical marijuana to all patients for which such any form of cannabis would improve their health by removing obstacle cited by opposition to S.B.0073.
Utah Chapter of NORML: http://norml.org/chapters/ut
Utah Cannabis Coalition: https://utahcannabiscoalition.wordpress.com
Utah Department of Commerce Paper Consequences and Recommendations about Conflicting State and Federal Law
Utah State Legislation Website: A comparison of S.B.0089 and S.B.0073
News and Articles Related to Utah Marijuana Laws:
Salt Lake City Tribune – Mormon Church Against Madsen’s Utah Marijuana Bill
ABC News (AP) – Mormon Church Utah Opposes Medical Marijuana Bill
The Cannabis Reporter – Sweet Small Remedy: A Mother’s Bitter Fight to (Legally) Save Her Child