Despite Colorado being a leader in legalizing cannabis, Utah continues to prohibit the possession and sale of cannabis in almost all circumstances. While some states maintain stricter sentencing, Utah is not flexible about cannabis offenses.
Convictions for selling are automatic felonies that may carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Offenses within 1000 feet of a school are treated as one degree more than provided and may carry a minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Possession sentences are not quite as severe. A first-time offender with a small amount may only be charged with a class B misdemeanor. Nonetheless, Utah’s laws regarding cannabis remain significantly behind many other states.
Support for Legalization in Utah
Interestingly, there is relatively high support for the legalization of cannabis in Utah. Research shows that around 72 percent of the state’s voters believe that cannabis should be legalized for medical purposes. Despite this support, lawmakers in the state have made little movement toward decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis in any form.
Medical Cannabis Use in Utah
Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law a proposal that allows limited use of cannabis extracts for medical purposes. This is limited to patients suffering from epileptic disorders. To be eligible, patients must be certified by a neurologist.
This exemption only applies to possession of oils with less than 0.3 percent THC and at least 15 percent CBD. The law is limited in scope but is a step forward for Utah.
In addition to individual use, the law also provides for higher education institutions to seek waivers to allow them to grow industrial hemp for research. Again, this is a limited application but is a departure from the previous hardline prohibition of cannabis.
There are concerns about access for patients who qualify under this law. Additionally, the law excludes a large portion of patients who may be considered eligible for medical cannabis in other states.
How to Open a Dispensary in Utah
At present, it is illegal to own any cannabis related business in Utah. There are no regulations that allow marijuana dispensaries in Utah nor growing and cultivation operations. The new laws regarding medical use may signal a future relaxation of cannabis laws, however.
To learn more about cannabis businesses in Utah or any other part of the United States, contact the American Cannabis Company. We help business owners understand regulations and successful launch businesses in the world of recreational and medical cannabis.