In Utah, medical marijuana has been legalized under state laws. Recreational marijuana is illegal; even possession of small amounts attracts criminal penalties.
Utah is known for many beautiful things, such as its scenic landscape and Mighty 5 national Parks. When it comes to the legality of marijuana in the Beehive State, a couple of things are in the grey. Is marijuana legal, and in that case, what are the limits of possession and consumption? This brief article explains everything there is to know about the current state of marijuana in Utah.
When Did Utah Legalize Marijuana?
Utah legalized medical marijuana in November 2018 after voters passed Proposition 2. This bill allowed patients with qualifying conditions to access all the medical marijuana health benefits. It also allowed state-licensed operations to cultivate, process, test, and sell cannabis to medical cannabis patients.
Proposition 2 generated a lot of enthusiasm in the weeks leading to the election. This compelled the Republican Gov. Gary Herbert to introduce a compromise bill that would take effect regardless of the vote outcome.
The compromise bill vouched for the following:
- Easing the requirements that were needed to renew a medical card
- More stringent qualifications for caregivers and guardians
- Protection of medical marijuana patients in workplaces
- Regulating the consumption of medical marijuana
The legislature approved and passed the compromise bill in December 2018. HB 3001, which became the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, took effect on the same day. Utah has frequently amended its medical marijuana laws, loosening some restrictions and making others more stringent. For example, in 2018, the legislature signed HB 195, a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to use medicinal marijuana. In 2020 the state signed HB 121 for the expungement of minor marijuana-related convictions. Later the same year, HB 425 was signed. This bill made it easier for patients to access medical marijuana by reducing some ID requirements.
Is Recreational Marijuana Legal In Utah?
Recreational marijuana has not been legalized or decriminalized in this state. Possession of marijuana for recreational use is a criminal offense and subject to a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for six months.
In Utah, medical cannabis patients can purchase medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries, which are referred to as pharmacies in the state. Patients are allowed to possess a maximum of 112 grams (3.95 ounces) of marijuana within 30 days. The total THC should not exceed 19 grams (0.67 ounces).
How To Purchase Marijuana in Utah
Not everyone can possess marijuana in Utah. You will need to be a bonafide Utah medical marijuana patient or a parent/ legal guardian of one. Designated caregivers of medical marijuana patients are also allowed to purchase medical marijuana from state-approved pharmacies. Patients must also have a medical marijuana card to buy medical marijuana. For medical marijuana treatment- “Utah’s Compassionate Use Board must approve minors (below 21 years).”
Where to Consume Medical Marijuana in Utah
In Utah, patients are required to consume medical marijuana in private unless it’s an emergency. Patients cannot consume medical marijuana when driving.
Medical marijuana can be consumed in the form of tinctures, capsules, topicals, or gelatin cubes. Recently, the state also legalized vaping cannabis flower, resin, or wax.
Medical Marijuana Program Utah
The medical marijuana program in Utah comprises qualifying patients, medical care providers, and state-licensed pharmacies or dispensaries. A qualified physician must assess patients in need of this kind of treatment to determine whether they qualify. Medical conditions that are eligible for medical marijuana include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Epilepsy or limiting seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Patients under hospice care
- Chronic pain
- Other conditions that the Compassionate Use Board may approve
Apart from having a qualifying condition, patients must also meet specific criteria:
They must be residents of Utah
The must-have attained the minimum legal age
Patients below 21 years must get approval from the compassionate Act Board
Patients with medical marijuana cards can purchase medical marijuana from “medical pharmacies.” There are only fourteen licenses for marijuana medical pharmacies in Utah.
Possession limits in Utah
The table below outlines the possession limits for marijuana in Utah and the associated penalties and fines.
|Less than 1 oz||Misdemeanor||6 months||$ 1,000|
|1 oz – 1 lb||Misdemeanor||1 Year||$ 2,500|
|1 – 100 lbs||Felony||5 Year||$ 5,000|
|More than 100 lbs||Felony||5-15 Years||$ 10,000|
Selling marijuana in Utah without a state-issued license is illegal- it is considered a felony. It attracts a maximum penalty of 5 years or up to $5,000 in fines. The fine will be increased (1,000) if the sale involved a minor or if it was in the proximity of a school or a drug-free zone.
|Selling any amount of marijuana||Felony||5 Years||$5,000|
Marijuana cultivation without a state- issued license in Utah is illegal- it is considered a felony. It attracts the same penalties as selling marijuana.
Possession of any kind of marijuana paraphernalia is illegal in Utah unless intended, marketed, or exclusively used for legal/ medical purposes. Marijuana paraphernalia includes items that are used for producing or processing the marijuana i.e. cultivation, harvesting, testing, storage, inhaling, ingesting, or any other way of consuming the marijuana.
The table below outlines the penalties and fines that are associated with marijuana paraphernalia.
|Possession of paraphernalia||Misdemeanor||6 months||$1,000|
|Sale of paraphernalia||Misdemeanor||1 Year||$2,500|
|To a minor||Felony||5 Years||$5,000|
Being convicted of any marijuana related crime will result in the suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months.
Can You Grow Marijuana in Utah
No, the medical cannabis act prohibits the private growing of medical marijuana.
What’s Next for Marijuana in Utah
Utah is a very conservative state that is dominated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2018, it became the 33rd state to legalize recreational marijuana. Given its religious dominance, it is doubtful that the state will legalize recreational marijuana shortly. However, cannabis proponents in the state are still optimistic that the tide will turn yet again.