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PM News Brief: Medical Marijuana, Stay At Home & Insanity Defense

Photo of a man standing in front of a display case
Jon Reed
Utah's first medical cannabis pharmacy, Dragonfly Wellness, opened earlier this month. People who qualify for medical marijuana but don't have a card can use a letter from their health care provider, under new changes by the Utah Department of Health.

Wednesday evening, March 25, 2020


Social Distancing Helping Slow Spread Of COVID-19

Utah’s social distancing measures are starting to work as the state has yet to see an exponential increase in new day-to-day COVID-19 cases. More than 6,800 people in the state have been tested. There have been 346 confirmed cases and still only one death. Health officials say the majority of people contracting the virus are age 25 and older. — Grace Osusky 

State Eases Access Requirements For Medical Marijuana

Under new changes announced Wednesday by the Utah Department of Health, people who qualify for medical marijuana but don’t have a card can instead use a recommendation letter from their health care provider. But you must live in Utah, have a valid photo ID, and the pharmacy must receive independent confirmation from the health care provider to prove the letter is valid. These changes are only effective until Dec. 31. Right now, there is only one medical cannabis pharmacy in the state, but an additional 13 dispensaries are expected to open this year. — Jessica Lowell

Online Unemployment Workshops Now Available

The Department of Workforce Services launched online workshops Wednesday for people who lost their job due to COVID-19. The service will provide information on things like how to apply for unemployment, temporary financial assistance, or tips for finding a new job. The workshops are held Monday through Friday at 10 a.m and 2 p.m. They are scheduled to last until April 10, but will go longer if needed. — Grace Osusky

Don’t Flush Disinfectant Wipes

The demand for disinfecting wipes has skyrocketed in recent weeks. But state water treatment officials have asked people not to flush them down the toilet. The Utah Division of Water Quality said there has been an increase in backed-up toilets and overflowing sewer lines in recent weeks because people have been flushing things other than toilet paper. Even if wipes say they are flushable, officials say any other product besides toilet paper does not dissolve properly and will clog pipes. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Veterinarians Asked To Suspend Some Procedures

Utah’s veterinarians are required to postpone all non-urgent procedures during the coronavirus outbreak. The Department of Health made the move to preserve medical equipment like gowns, masks and gloves. Non-emergency procedures include wellness checks, dental exams, booster vaccines, and routine spay and neuter procedures. Urgent care is still permitted, and includes things like treating rabies, pregnancy, infections, and anything that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering. Vets are also encouraged to donate unused personal protective equipment to healthcare workers. — Caroline Ballard


Summit County Issues Stay At Home Order

Summit County officials issued a stay at home order Wednesday. The order comes from the Summit County Council, county manager and health director and goes into effect Friday at 12:01 a.m. It requires all residents to stop all non-essential travel and business through May 1, though trips for essentials like food and medication will still be allowed. Visitors are asked to leave as safely and quickly as possible. The order cites the county's high per-capita rate of cases, which is nearly 20 times higher than Salt Lake County. — Caroline Ballard

Domestic Violence Calls Spike In Salt Lake City

Domestic abuse calls have increased 33% over the last two weeks, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department. The calls have been increasing since January, but the recent spike coincides with the state asking people to limit social gatherings and stay at home as much as possible to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Domestic violence advocates say social distancing measures can put those in abusive situations at greater risk. Read the full story. — Jon Reed


U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Insanity Defense In Some States

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that states don’t need a traditional insanity defense. In most states, you can plead ‘not guilty by reason of insanity.’ But in Kansas, Utah, Montana and Idaho, you haven’t been able to for decades. One man in Kansas challenged that, saying it should be an option. The court disagreed.— Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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