Utah – a very religious and very Republican state. Their electoral college votes haven’t gone towards the Democratic candidate since 1964. Surprising to some, medical marijuana is legal in Utah. More surprising, there’s even a push by some citizens, lawmakers and religious leaders to make recreational use legal. Recreational use is still looking like a fair way off though, and medical marijuana has had more than a few hurdles to overcome. So what’s currently the status of marijuana in Utah?
Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee the accuracy of this article at the time of reading. We take no responsibility for any inaccurate information.
People Power For Medical Marijuana In Utah
The state of Utah legalized medical marijuana in November 2018, after citizens voted on the initiative, called Proposition 2. The medical marijuana initiative was included on the 2018 midterm ballot after gathering enough initial support from citizens in the months prior.
For the medical marijuana initiative to be included on the ballot, signatures collected needed to amount to a minimum of 10% of the voter turnout in the last presidential election. In the 2016 elections, approximately 1,130,000 citizens voted, meaning 113,000 signatures were required. This number was easily met, with around 154,000 signatures initially being collected. Opponents to this initiative managed to get a few thousand people to remove their signatures, however, the effort wasn’t enough to stop this initiative being included on the ballot.
Both sides of the initiative accused each other of dirty tactics. Opponents filed complaints alleging people were offered money if they didn’t submit their letters of signature removal. Proponents of the initiative alleged that citizens were given misleading information to obtain their removal letters.
Proposition 2 – The Public Votes
In the 2018 midterms, the public voted in support of Proposition 2. In the original form that the (slim) majority of voters supported, Proposition 2 would have given the following:
- patients with a select number of medical conditions would be allowed access to the program
- without a listed condition, patients could seek approval through a separate process
- patients could purchase up to 2 oz of unprocessed marijuana, or products with less than 10 grams of THC or CBD
- patients could grow up to six plants, only if they live further than 100 miles from a dispensary
- no “marijuana taxes” would be imposed on patients, but rather on the companies supplying the marijuana to fund the system
Despite the public voting in support of Proposition 2, opponents called on Utah’s legislature to draft a compromise bill. Essentially seeking a watered-down version of Proposition 2, opponents to medical marijuana in the state secured this amended bill.
The Compromise For Medical Marijuana In Utah
The main thing that was stripped in the compromised bill was the point about home cultivation. Patients would no longer be permitted to grow plants at home, regardless of how far a patient lives from a dispensary. Furthermore, a fewer number of dispensaries would be allowed in the state, and all dispensaries would require a pharmacist.
This “compromise bill” was passed 60 to 13 in the House, and 22 to 4 in the Senate. Despite its stricter requirements, this new bill delivered legal marijuana to Utah.
Medical Marijuana Coming Soon To Utah
According to NORML, up to 14 dispensaries are permitted to open in Utah for their medical marijuana program. Eight are permitted to open from March 1st, 2020, while the other six can open from July 1st, 2020. 13 of the 14 locations were confirmed on January 3rd, 2020.
Three of the 14 locations will be north of Salt Lake City. Logan and Ogden both have a dispensary confirmed, with one more planned for the northern region (the 1 still unconfirmed location). Salt Lake City has three dispensaries confirmed, with another two in the suburbs of West Bountiful and Park City.
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Provo has three dispensaries confirmed, with one being in the city center, and another two being at Lindon and Springville. The remaining three locations cater for the more rural areas of St George, Cedar City and Vernal, and their surrounding areas.
Recreational Marijuana In Border City
The border city of West Wendover in Nevada recently opened a recreational marijuana dispensary. This slashed the distance in half that some Salt Lake City residents previously traveled for marijuana. The drive between the two cities is over an hour and a half, however, this is still far shorter than some residents previously traveled.
Under federal law however, bringing marijuana into Utah over state lines is not legal.
Will Recreational Marijuana Become Legal In Utah?
At this stage it’s hard to accurately predict what the future of marijuana looks like in Utah. What will likely happen is Utah following a similar path to other states that have taken this journey already. Most states have tested the water with a medical marijuana program first, before recreational weed is introduced.
Support from Utah’s citizens will likely increase once they realize the state doesn’t turn into bedlam from allowing a plants healing properties. But then again, it is Utah so who really knows what will happen.