SALT LAKE CITY — Utah patients can use medical marijuana legally after a compromise agreement was signed into law, but they likely won’t be able to buy it legally until at least 2020, officials said Tuesday.
The state will need time to first build up a database to start issuing patients medical-cannabis cards, and then begin granting licenses for dispensaries, health department spokesman Tom Hudachko said. The first license for a private dispensary must be awarded by June 2020, though authorities are aiming to do it faster.
But people who have bought permitted forms of medicinal marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation now have legal protections.
Some advocates, though, say the agreement makes it too difficult for patients to access the drug and have vowed to sue. The changes narrow the list of eligible medical conditions for which the drug can be obtained.
The deadlines for opening dispensaries are largely the same as those written into the original bill, Boyack said. They call for the state to begin issuing medical cannabis cards in March 2020 and start a state-run central dispensary later that year.
The compromise cuts the number of private dispensaries from 15 to seven. But if the state doesn’t create its central dispensary by January 2021, more private licenses will begin becoming available.