Who is Richard Oborn? [1:47]
Richard’s experience with cannabis [4:56]
Did Utah model their program after different states or like the regulatory side? [6:35]
What is the role of the Department of Health? [9:06]
Where is Medical Cannabis grown? [11:53]
When will more dispensaries open? [13:19]
How many cards have been issued? [15:07]
Are people still having issues navigating the system to get Medical Cannabis Cards? [17:53]
What has the response been since the program launched? [19:48]
When does home delivery start? [21:38]
What is the process for additional conditions, like anxiety, to be considered as a qualifying condition? [25:18]
Does the Department of Health also manage the Compassionate Use Board? [27:12]
What changes to the Medical Marijuana program is Richard excited to see? [33:21]
Utah in the Weeds Podcast
Utah Medical Cannabis Program
Richard is the Director of the Center for Medical Cannabis in the Utah Department of Health. Prior to this role, he oversaw the Office of Vital Records and Statistics, where he started the Hemp Extract Registration Program. This program allowed epilepsy patients to legally possess CBD.
Once it became more clear that Proposition 2 would pass, he was asked to help the department prepare for the new law. Then, in March 2019, the Center for Medical Cannabis was created.
Richard has never used cannabis, but due to the roles at the Center for Medical Cannabis and the Office of Vital Records and Statistics, he has performed extensive research with cannabis and CBD, including attending conferences and visiting facilities in other states.
Richard was able to visit programs in other states to get a better understanding of how Utah’s cannabis program could operate. For example, Minnesota has a very restricted program, with only two companies that run the cultivation and processing of Medical Cannabis.
He also visited Arizona, which is a much more liberal program with little government involvement. Seeing different types of cannabis programs helped him prepare for what to expect in Utah.
The primary responsibility is to issue Medical Marijuana Cards.They also register Qualified Medical Providers and help manage training those providers.
Another function of the department is to oversee the pharmacies in the state. This includes ensuring that they operate in a way that complies with Utah law, and that protects the public.
There’s also an element of having to coordinate with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to ensure cannabis products are safe to consume.
Medical Cannabis for Utah pharmacies can only be grown in the state of Utah. This is primarily due to federal laws that prohibit transport across state lines.
Some dispensaries are planning to open during the summer. However, COVID-19 has caused delays for dispensaries opening.
There are 3100 Medical Cannabis Card holders. Cards were issued to residents across the state, from rural counties such as Grand, Millard, and Beaver counties, to larger counties such as Salt Lake, Davis, and Weber counties. They are currently seeing between 300-400 new applications per week.
The Department of Health has also certified over 300 Qualified Medical Providers. This includes MDs, DOs, APRN, and Physician Assistants, like Tim.
To find a Qualified Medical Provider, go to medicalcannabis.utah.gov and click the “Locate a Provider” link.
The Department of Health has worked to smooth out the process, including adding user guides to the site, and including a phone number on the site that people can call to get help during the process.
They will continue to improve the process to make it easier to navigate.
Right now, they are on track to issue 10,000 Medical Cannabis Cards by the end of the year. They are seeing COVID-19 impact how fast people can go through the process.
Also, because patients will no longer be able to use a medical letter in 2021, they expect to see an increase in cards issued at the end of the year.
Home delivery will start this summer. To receive home deliveries, you will need to have a Medical Marijuana Card. Patients who only have medical letters will not qualify for home delivery.
The Utah legislature has final say over qualifying conditions. The legislature also created the Cannabinoid Product Board that the Department of Health works with directly.The responsibility of the board is to make recommendations to the interim Health and Human Services Committee regarding any additional conditions that have evidence of being successfully treated by Medical Cannabis.
The board is continually reviewing studies about different conditions. They are reviewing studies that were conducted within the United States, and from around the world, looking to see if there is anything that they would recommend, as a board, to the legislature.
Yes, the Department of Health manages both the Cannabinoid Product Board and the Compassionate Use Board. The Compassionate Use Board reviews the applications that come from minors who are under the age of 21. They also review any applications that come from individuals that do not have a qualifying condition, but whose qualified medical provider believes that they would benefit from Medical Cannabis.
On https://medicalcannabis.utah.gov/, go to Providers and then Continuing Education. There are four credit hours that a provider could take toward their licensure. After taking an approved course, there is a $100 registration fee and a $50 renewal fee every two years.
The biggest change is with home delivery. Also, the Department of Health continues to improve the system, and the process of obtaining cards.
Finally, Richard is excited to see more pharmacies open during the summer and fall.