Is Marijuana Legal in the State of Utah?
Medical patients in Utah with certain qualifying conditions can legally purchase weed if they register with the Beehive State, and they can therefore visit state-licensed dispensaries in areas such as Salt Lake City and Ogden to buy marijuana. Recreational marijuana remains illegal, and possession of even small amounts of cannabis by non-medical users can result in criminal charges.
History of Weed Laws
On November 6, 2018, Utah voters passed Proposition 2, which legalized medical marijuana in order to authorize qualifying patients to make cannabis purchases from state-licensed dispensaries, while also allowing facilities registered with the state to cultivate, process, test and sell marijuana for medical reasons.
Shortly prior to the vote, Governor Herbert, along with the state legislature and advocates both for and against marijuana worked together to create cannabis legislation, acting as a compromise to appease both sides of the argument. HB 3001, or the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, was thus established, creating stricter laws regarding qualifying for the program, laxer laws about registration renewal, and more regulated laws regarding the consumption of medical marijuana, than were initiated in the original piece of legislation.
In 2018, the state amended the law to allow medical marijuana for terminally ill patients, and in 2020, expungement laws were passed for certain marijuana-related convictions. During the COVID pandemic of 2020, the state also made marijuana cards more accessible so that patients could have an easier time purchasing cannabis amidst the crisis.
Currently, the medical marijuana program is regulated by the Utah Department of Health.
Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Utah?
In Utah, you can purchase medical marijuana if you are a patient who is 18 years of age or older. Younger patients must designate a parent or legal guardian to make purchases for them, and adult patients can authorize a caregiver if they are unable to make purchases themselves. Those authorized to purchase cannabis must do so only from a state-licensed pharmacy, while having their marijuana card accessible. Anyone with a card may purchase up to 112 grams of marijuana containing up to 19 grams of THC every 30 days.
The state permits the use of the following cannabis products:
- Liquid suspensions
- Skin patches
- Gelatin cubes
- Vaping products utilizing flower, wax, or oil
Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?
Patients can only consume cannabis on private property except for in the case of a medical emergency. However, it’s strictly illegal to smoke cannabis, or consume cannabis while driving a vehicle.
Medical patients can legally possess up to 112 grams of cannabis every 30 days. Transporting cannabis to and from private properties requires that the driver has their medical card on them.
Those who are not part of the state’s medical marijuana program are subject to criminal charges for possessing up to an ounce of cannabis, as it is classified as a class B misdemeanor, with fines up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. A second conviction is a class A misdemeanor which results in harsher penalties.
Can Residents Grow Their Own?
It is strictly illegal for UT residents to grow their own cannabis, even if they are medical cardholders. Doing so could lead to criminal charges, including those pertaining to an intent to distribute.
Utah’s Department of Health manages the process of applying for medical marijuana. There is an electronic verification system for eligible patients, which contains a list of authorized patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and pharmacies.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Epilepsy or debilitating seizures
- Multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms
- Persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Terminal illness or condition resulting in hospice care
- A rare condition or disease that has not responded to conventional medications
- Pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not managed by conventional medications
For those with conditions not on the list above, it is permitted to petition the state in order to have a specific condition approved, which is done on a case-by-case basis.
To be eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program, you must be 18 or older, or be a minor whose parent or legal guardian can apply on your behalf. Patients who are below the age of 21 require additional approval from the Compassionate Use Board.
How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Utah
To register for medical marijuana in Utah, you must register through the state’s DOH website. First, you must create an account through the Electronic Verification System, then fill out the application form and wait for physician approval. A $15 fee is required. Patients 21 or older will receive a response within 15 days, while patients younger than 21 will receive a response within 90 days.
Qualifying as a Caregiver
A patient who is unable to make cannabis purchases may designate up to two caregivers, and a caregiver may care for up to 2 patients at a time. Caregivers must undergo a background check prior to approval.
Registering as a Caregiver
To register as a caregiver, a patient must fill out an application through the Electronic Verification System and create an account either before or after a patient designates them as a caregiver. There is a $68.25 fee to apply for the first patient, and a $15 fee to apply for the second patient. Information must also be submitted for a background check.
Utah does permit out-of-state cardholders to make purchases in Utah dispensaries, but they must adhere to Utah’s laws pertaining to purchase limits and possession. Residents who have recently moved to Utah may possess cannabis bought out of state for up to 45 days, and from there they must apply for a Utah-issued medical card.
All cannabis products sold in Utah must undergo testing by a third-party laboratory approved by the state. The cannabis is tested for cannabinoid content, potency, foreign matter, heavy metals, microbes, moisture content, pesticides, solvents, and toxins.