Utah Boosts Medical Cannabis Accessibility

The US state of Utah has made changes to its medical cannabis program enabling more health care professionals to recommend cannabis.

Previously recommendations could only be provided by Utah-licensed medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants and podiatrists with a controlled substance licence and registered with the state’s Department of Health to make recommendations.

This has now been expanded to all of the abovementioned groups without the registration requirement, bringing the number of healthcare providers able to do so from 800 to potentially more than 21,000. However, in the case of patients younger than 21, a medical cannabis recommendation from a provider who is registered with the Utah Department of Health is still required.

Another restriction is each non-registered provider can only recommend up to 15 of their adult patients.

Utah’s medical cannabis program launched in early 2020 after quite a tussle to get it on the ballot and there are more than 41,000 residents with active registrations. Among the qualifying conditions are PTSD and pain lasting more than 2 weeks that can’t be adequately managed with conventional medications.

Forms of medical cannabis permitted in the state include tablets, capsules, liquids, unprocessed cannabis flower, waxes and resins, vaping and transdermal, sublingual or topical preparations.  “Gelatinous cubes” are also permitted, but as for other edibles such as candies, cookies and brownies; they are off the menu. Also not permitted is the smoking of medical marijuana, and vaporizing and inhaling concentrated cannabis by placing the cannabis on a nail or other metal object that is heated by a flame.

Medical cannabis cardholders are limited to possessing not more 113 grams  of flower and in terms of other cannabis products, no more than 20 grams of total composite THC.

As of late last year, there were just 14 medical cannabis pharmacy locations operating across Utah; one for every 2,928 patients – so service quality and product availability may come under pressure if there’s an influx of new patients. But with the 15-patient limit and the number of providers willing to make recommendations unknown, hopefully the situation won’t impact heavily on existing cardholders.

Further information on Utah’s medical cannabis program can be found here.

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