Medical Cannabis | KUER 90.1

Medical Cannabis

Credit / LvNL

Ten years ago, who would have predicted that one of the most conservative states in the nation would legalize medical marijuana by popular vote?

After years of pushing the Legislature but seeing little progress on the issue, patient advocates took matters into their own hands by launching a ballot initiative to legalize the drug. In Nov. 2018, it passed with nearly 53% approval.

The aftermath has been complicated, though. Less than a month after the initiative passed, Utah lawmakers angered advocates by convening a special session to roll back parts of the law, like shrinking the list of qualifying conditions and restricting some edibles. Later, lawmakers had to gather in another special session to remove a portion of the bill that allowed county health departments to dispense the drug. In the spring of 2020, card-carrying patients will be able to start purchasing medical cannabis products. — Nicole Nixon

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Jon Reed / KUER

Wednesday evening, March 25, 2020

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Wikimedia Commons

Friday evening, March 6, 2020

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Jon Reed / KUER

Dragonfly Wellness, Utah’s first medical cannabis pharmacy, officially opened for business Monday. 

Photo of a Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo sitting in a tree. of Gary Botello

Friday morning, Feb. 28, 2020

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Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah’s medical cannabis program is set to launch this weekend, with patients able to apply for a medical marijuana card online as early as Sunday morning. 

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Jon Reed / KUER

Thursday evening, Feb. 27, 2020

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Monday evening, Feb. 24, 2020

Photo of a man and dog in a hemp field with mountains.
Matt Herp for KUER

On a recent cold and snowy day in Logan, Nathan Snow’s harvest was in full swing. He wore sunglasses to shield his eyes from rows and rows of bright lights growing hundreds and hundreds of bushy plants. This hemp “farm” is located inside a large, nondescript warehouse where the air smelled tropical and loamy. 

Photo of cannabis plants.

A bill introduced in the State Senate Wednesday is looking to clear criminal records for those who’ve been convicted of offenses related to marijuana possession. 

S.B.121, sponsored by Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, would expunge the records of those who’ve used marijuana medicinally, though would not apply to anyone caught dealing or selling it or those with felony charges. 

Photo illustration showing a marijuana leaf on top of a stethoscope.

Tuesday evening, Feb. 11, 2020

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Tuesday morning, Feb. 11, 2020

marijuana leaf. / Darren415

Utah is one step closer to launching its medical marijuana program as the Department of Health announced Monday medical providers may pre-register with the state ahead of the official rollout March 1.

Illustration of 2020 shaped glasses with a podium and ballot reflected in the lenses.
Renee Bright / KUER

Impeachment. A pivotal presidential election. The 2020 Census. Tax reform. And … The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Along with the perennial topics of growth, environment and healthcare, those are a few of the stories — big and small — we’ll be following this year. Here are 10 other stories to watch for 2020.

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Elaine Clark / KUER

From the inland port to ballot initiatives to beer, KUER’s reporters have been following 2019’s biggest stories. Political reporter Nicole Nixon and education reporter Rocio Hernandez joined Caroline Ballard to discuss the issues they’ve been following.

Shoppers walk the mall during Black Friday.
David Fuchs / KUER

Friday afternoon, November 29, 2019

Photo illustration of cannabis in a bag in front of prescription pill bottles.

Future medical cannabis users and sellers now have a better idea about how much they might pay to join Utah’s medical marijuana program. After more changes to the cannabis program were announced during last week’s special session, the Department of Health unveiled the range of fees it aims to charge for registration, background checks, and yearly licensing. 

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Austen Diamond for KUER

Utah lawmakers approved a medical cannabis system that will use more privately-run dispensaries instead of public health departments to help distribute the drug. 

Photo of bagged medical marijuana and medicine bottles. / Patrick Morrissey

Utah’s medical cannabis law will continue to evolve as the state prepares to sell marijuana products next spring.

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Utah lawmakers are again tweaking the state’s medical cannabis law after several county attorneys raised concerns about dispensing the drug through local health departments.

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Nicole Nixon / KUER

More than 16,000 Utahns could get medical cannabis cards during the program’s first year, according to estimates commissioned by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

marijuana leaf. / Darren415

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Friday that it will award licenses to grow medical cannabis to eight cultivators.

Renee Bright / KUER

It’s 3 a.m. and Corey Ellis can’t sleep. He’s supposed to be on the road in a few hours, but the chronic pain in his hands and feet are bothering him. On this night, there’s another thing keeping him awake: anxiety.

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KUER File Photo

Just a handful of businesses will soon get the opportunity to grow marijuana in Utah, but it won’t come cheap.

Image of medical cannabis bottle. / LvNL

Medical cannabis products could be ready to sell to Utah patients as soon as January 1, 2020, if all goes according to plan, state officials told lawmakers on the Health and Human Services Interim Committee Wednesday.

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Julia Ritchey / KUER

The Utah Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn the state Legislature’s replacement for voter-approved Proposition 2 that expanded patient access to medical marijuana.

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Brian Albers / KUER

The Utah Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday morning against a controversial legislative rewrite of a voter-approved medical marijuana law. / Patrick Morrissey

Medical marijuana in Utah is one step closer to being available to the public. As of today companies can apply to the state to create a new tracking system for cannabis from seed to patient.

Photo of Mark Briesacher.
Erik Neumann / KUER

Representatives from Intermountain Healthcare announced today that staff in their hospitals can now endorse the use of medical cannabis, the first health system in the state to take that step since the Utah Medical Cannabis Act was passed in December.

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Renee Bright / KUER

It was a year of big — big fires, big ballot initiatives and big political upsets — that collectively defined Utah in 2018 as the state continued its growth spurt. The Beehive State added another 50,000 people this year, owing both to the state’s healthy economy and low unemployment. But Utah also weathered more troublesome headlines, whether through the rushed creation of a controversial Inland Port in northwest Salt Lake City or the publication of sexual abuse allegations implicating leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church.

KUER reporters picked out some of the top stories of this year and explain why they mattered.

Brian Grimmett

The state legislature passed the Utah Medical Cannabis Act last week. State agencies are already taking first steps to lay the groundwork for the law despite several lawsuits attempting to undo the compromise between cannabis advocates and elected officials.