It’s a new year and with it comes some new updates to Utah’s medical marijuana system.

Starting this past Friday, Utah residents will no longer be able to go out of the state to buy marijuana product. The state’s medical marijuana patients will also need a card from the Utah Department of Health.

The “affirmative defense” letters from doctors, which recommend cannabis for medical purposes, will additionally no longer suffice.

It was at the end of 2019 that the provision that allowed physicians to recommend the use of cannabis without registering as a qualified medical provider (QMP).

Lawmakers want to continue this provision, allowing doctors to continue without the online training.

“If they don’t have a physician in their area, especially in a rural area, they’d have to go to a physician somewhere else in the state,” said Senator Evan Vickers (R-D28), who is familiar with the legislation. “Some of those physicians who have become QMPs are charging a pretty high fee.”

According to the Utah Patients Coalition, roughly 60 to 70 percent of Utah’s medical marijuana patients have acquired the new cards. Those without the required cards may run into trouble buying medical marijuana products now.

“That product also is illegal because they are no longer a medical cannabis patient unless they have the card,” said Desiree Hennessy, Executive Director, Utah Patients Coalition

This month a bill that makes it easier to get a card will be considered in the 2021 legislative session.

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