Medical cannabis was decriminalized in Utah with the passage of the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, but it doesn’t mean that anyone who wishes to purchase medical cannabis can do so. The law clearly limits access to medical cannabis to a strict list of medical conditions.
Individuals with the following conditions are authorized to receive a medical cannabis patient card under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act:
- HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment, except for nausea related to:
- Cannabis-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome
- Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Epilepsy or debilitating seizures
- Multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is being treated and monitored by a licensed health therapist and that:
- has been diagnosed by a healthcare provider employed or contracted by the United States Veterans Administration and documented in the patient’s record; or
- has been diagnosed or confirmed, through face-to-face or telehealth evaluation of the patient, by a provider who is a licensed psychiatrist, a psychologist with a doctorate-level degree, a clinical social worker with a doctorate-level degree, or an APRN who is qualified to practice within the psychiatric mental health nursing specialty
- A terminal illness when the patient’s life expectancy is less than six months
- A condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care
- A rare condition or disease that affects less than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., as defined in federal law, and that is not adequately managed despite treatment attempts using conventional medications (other than opioids or opiates) or physical interventions
- Pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed, in the Qualified Medical Provider’s opinion, despite treatment attempts using conventional medications (other than opioids or opiates) or physical interventions
If a patient’s condition is not on this list but a Qualified Medical Provider believes that medical cannabis is a proper course of treatment, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act includes a provision that a condition may be submitted to the Compassionate Use Board for approval on a case-by-case basis.
An individual is qualified for a Medical Cannabis Patient Card if they are Utah resident and has a recommendation for treatment from a Qualified Medical Provider. Individuals who are 21 years of age or older are eligible; if the individual is between the ages of 18 to 21, they must petition the Compassionate Use Board for approval.
For minors under age 18, the child’s parent or legal guardian must apply for a Medical Cannabis Guardian Card.
An individual who is the caregiver for a patient that is eligible for medical cannabis treatment may apply for a Medical Cannabis Caregiver Card. The Caregiver Card will be associated with up to two existing Patient or Guardian Cards, and requires a criminal background check during the application process.
More information about the Utah Medical Cannabis Act and the regulations around medical cannabis in Utah is available in the Substance Education Institute’s Cannabis Continuing Education Course.