Two years in, Utah’s cannabis program has accessibility issues

Due to state-controlled supplies, medical cannabis is still expensive in Utah.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cannabis plants are grown in the nursery clone room using a deep water culture system at Tryke, a company in Tooele County on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, one of eight cultivators approved by the state to bring product to the public as part of Utah's medical cannabis program.

Since 2020, the state’s medical cannabis program has seen substantial growth. An annual report last year found that the number of active cardholders more than tripled, and pharmacies in the state more than doubled.

But despite the expansion of the program, patients are having a difficult time accessing the medicine due to renewal and product costs.

Zachary King lives in Bountiful. Years ago, he was in a paintball accident that left him with chronic pain. He has been a medical marijuana cardholder for almost two years now.

King pays out of pocket for his doctors’ appointments and medicine. He said it is very expensive to access cannabis.

“It’s almost like we’re more incentivized to go back to our pharmaceuticals than to utilize the cannabis option because it’s just so much more affordable with the insurance and with all those other things,” King said.

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This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.