Lawmakers in Utah met on Monday to go over the cost of medical cannabis in the state. The gist: patients there are paying no more or no less than what they would in other states where the treatment is also legal.
Local news station KUER reports that the meeting was part of the state legislature’s Medical Cannabis Governance Structure Working Group, which “listened to presentations on the analysis from the Utah Cannabis Association, Utah Cannabis Co-Op and the Center for Medical Cannabis under the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.”
The group of lawmakers compared “the cost of three cannabis products in Utah to 19 other states with medical marijuana programs,” KUER reported, and concluded that “Utahns are forking over about the average price for cannabis flower (bud), gummies and vape cartridges.”
“We were asked when working with the policy analysts to compare apples to apples, but with all of the different nuances in the different states, it really is a difficult task,” said Alyssa Smailes with Utah Cannabis Association, as quoted by KUER, who along with Utah Cannabis Co-Op “selected 19 states with various cannabis markets in different stages of progress to compare with Utah.”
The groups collected data from the “last week of July for other states and all products available for sale in Utah in July 2022,” for the three most common products: Vape Carts (38% of sales); Flower (35%); and Gummies (25%).
Scott Erikson of Utah Cannabis Co-Op told the lawmakers, “he isn’t sure why Utah’s flower market is noticeably lower than the 36 other states with medical cannabis programs,” KUER reported.
“Most states the amount of flower is over 50%. Some states it’s as high as 60%,” Erikson said, as quoted by the station. “There are all sorts of speculation as to why.”
One theory, per KUER, “is the cultural influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” which “doesn’t approve of smoking tobacco products but has said the use of marijuana is permitted under medical circumstances.”
Voters in Utah passed a measure legalizing medical cannabis treatment in 2018.
Patients with the following conditions may qualify for the treatment there: HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; Alzheimer’s disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; cancer; cachexia; persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment, except for nausea related to pregnancy; cannabis-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome; cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome; Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis; epilepsy or debilitating seizures; multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is being treated and monitored by a licensed health therapist, and that has been diagnosed by a healthcare provider by the Veterans Administration and documented in the patient’s record or has been diagnosed or confirmed by evaluation from a psychiatrist, masters prepared psychologist, a masters prepared licensed clinical social worker, or a psychiatric APRN; autism; a terminal illness when the patient’s life expectancy is less than six months; a condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care; a rare condition or disease that affects less than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., as defined in federal law, and that is not adequately managed despite treatment attempts using conventional medications (other than opioids or opiates) or physical interventions; pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed, in the qualified medical provider’s opinion, despite treatment attempts using conventional medications other than opioids or opiates or physical interventions.
Earlier this year, lawmakers in Utah passed a bill that protects medical cannabis patients in the state against discrimination in health care and public employment.
“What this bill does is it provides some clarity to what the legislative intent was… in recognizing medical cannabis as a legitimate use of cannabis for treating certain ailments such as chronic pain,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Joel Ferry, said at the time.