By: Adam Torkildson
Lehi Free Press
A new program enacted by the Utah legislature will make it simpler for those who qualify for medicinal marijuana to get their hands on the drug.
Physicians, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals now can recommend medicinal cannabis to patients who meet certain criteria, according to recent legislation enacted by the Utah State Legislature. The “limited medical provider” scheme was scheduled to be operational by October, but because of technical and personnel concerns, July 2022 was the date legislators expected the program to launch.
On Wednesday, the Utah Department of Health and medicinal marijuana dispensaries began operating the program. Up to 15 patients may be recommended for medicinal marijuana by any qualified doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or podiatrist in Utah who has a restricted drug license.
In 2018, Utahns authorized the use of medicinal marijuana. The Utah Department of Health and the Utah Department of Agriculture were charged with closely supervising the program.
Utahns with qualifying ailments no longer need to see a certified clinician to obtain a medical cannabis card under the new program, which allows over 21,000 medical professionals to make the recommendation.
“For qualified patients, this initiative increases the number of doctors who are able to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Although it used to be required that anyone seeking medical care in Utah had to get a referral from one of the state’s 800 certified medical practitioners, this is no longer the case,” said Richard Oborn, a medical marijuana advocate with the Utah Department of Health.
Those under the age of 21 must still get a referral from one of the 800 doctors who have already signed up with the registry.
According to the agency, there are 41,000 Utah individuals who have a medical cannabis card, and 14 medical cannabis pharmacies operating in the state. In Price, there will be an additional drugstore opening this year.