Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 47° Partly Cloudy
News >  Nation

Utah’s 1st medical marijuana dispensary set to open

In this Aug. 15, 2019 photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. Utah's first medical marijuana dispensary is set to open Monday, March 2, 2020, as the state begins a slow rollout of a program that will allow residents with certain health conditions to use the plant for medicinal purposes. (Richard Vogel / AP)
In this Aug. 15, 2019 photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. Utah's first medical marijuana dispensary is set to open Monday, March 2, 2020, as the state begins a slow rollout of a program that will allow residents with certain health conditions to use the plant for medicinal purposes. (Richard Vogel / AP)
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s first medical marijuana dispensary is set to open Monday as the state begins a slow rollout of a program that will allow residents with certain health conditions to use pot for medicinal purposes.

The online application process for people to get medical marijuana cards started on Sunday.

To get cards, people must first receive a recommendation from one of 60 approved health professionals, said Rich Oborn, director of the state’s Center for Medical Cannabis. The group includes doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who received training to approve patient cards

The first dispensary set to open is Dragonfly Wellness in Salt Lake City. A second dispensary is expected to open in March and seven more by June. The final five dispensaries, which will be called pharmacies, will open after July, Oborn said.

Patients with qualifying conditions have been able to use marijuana with a doctor’s letter since December 2018, but they had to go to other states to get it. Those letters are valid through the end of 2020, but they don’t allow patients to buy medical marijuana products in Utah.

People seeking medical marijuana cards are most likely to cite having chronic pain condition, defined as pain that lasts longer than two weeks, Oborn said.

Utah became the 33rd state to legalize medical marijuana after voters passed a ballot initiative in November 2018 that legalized doctor-approved marijuana treatment for certain health conditions including cancer, chronic pain and epilepsy.

State lawmakers then replaced the measure with a law they said puts tighter controls on the production, distribution and use of the drug. It was part of a compromise involving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose positions carry out-sized sway in its home state.

The faith, widely know as the Mormon church, had long frowned upon medical marijuana use because of a key church health code called the “Word of Wisdom,” which prohibits coffee as well as alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. They also worried that allowing medical marijuana could lead to broader use in Utah.

But as opinion polls indicated that majority of the state’s voters would approve the 2018 medical-legalization measure, leaders publicly came out in support of patients using the drug if prescribed by a doctor, saying it can alleviate pain and suffering.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.



Annual health and dental insurance enrollment period open now

 (Courtesy Washington Healthplanfinder)
Sponsored

2020 has been a stressful year for myriad reasons.