Utah Legislature approves medical cannabis law tweaks

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Mature cannabis plants are dried at Tryke, a new cannabis farm in Tooele, on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. The company, one of eight cultivators approved by the state, is expected to have product available for patients by March as part of Utah's medical cannabis program.

Utah lawmakers made a batch of last-minute fixes to the state’s medical cannabis law on Thursday, just days away from the official launch of the marijuana program.

The multifaceted bill, SB121, would offer expungement opportunities for patients prosecuted in the past, increase the number of cannabis recommendations each doctor can issue and eliminate a much-maligned packaging requirement for raw flower.

The Utah House passed the measure unanimously Thursday, sending it to Gov. Gary Herbert for consideration. If the governor signs the measure, it will go into effect immediately.

“Patients should be very excited by this new law and the many improvements it makes to the existing program,” Connor Boyack, cannabis advocate and president of the libertarian Libertas Institute, wrote in a text message.

The state is expected to debut its full-fledged medical cannabis program with the opening of Utah’s first marijuana pharmacy early next week. The date will represent the culmination of years of work, including the 2018 passage of Proposition 2. State legislators almost immediately swapped the voter initiative with a law of their own design and have continued making adjustments ever since.

While many patients were angered by the initiative’s replacement, Boyack said “many aspects to the new law will be even better than Prop 2 was — and it’s only going to keep getting better.”