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Medical cannabis expansion launches in Utah

Utah sign

An expansion to Utah's medical cannabis program has officially launched, allowing more health care workers to recommend marijuana to qualifying patients.

The program allows any licensed physician, physician's assistant, nurse or podiatrist with a controlled substance license to recommend cannabis to up to 15 patients. There are more than 21,000 medical providers who can now recommend medical cannabis, the Utah Department of Health said.

"This program expands access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients by increasing the number of clinicians who have the option to recommend medical cannabis. In the past, adult patients had to obtain a recommendation from one of the 800 medical providers who were registered with the Utah Department of Health but that is no longer the case," Richard Oborn, Utah Department of Health's Center for Medical Cannabis director, said in a statement.

FOX 13 first reported in 2019 about problems qualifying patients were having getting a physician willing to recommend. The Utah State Legislature created the "limited medical provider" option to get health care workers more comfortable with cannabis.

The expansion was supposed to launch last October, but staffing and technology issues delayed it. Lawmakers, caught off guard by the delay, were not pleased and demanded timelines be sped up. Patient advocates were also frustrated.

There are currently more than 41,000 Utah residents with active medical cannabis cards, UDOH said. There are 14 state-licensed dispensaries across the state.

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