Medical Cannabis

Intermountain Healthcare is committed to connecting patients and community members with the most accurate health information and highest-quality, clinically appropriate care. With the passage of the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, Intermountain will continue to support providers and patients while helping people live the healthiest lives possible.

Is medical cannabis the same as medical marijuana?

Essentially these terms mean the same thing. Intermountain Healthcare is referring to this therapy as medical cannabis because it reflects the wording in the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. Also, studies have shown that many people, providers, and caregivers associate the word “marijuana” with illicit activities or that the term makes people feel uncomfortable about the therapy. We’re calling it medical cannabis to avoid distracting providers, caregivers, patients, and family members from the clinical guidance and plans around this therapy.

Isn’t cannabis/marijuana illegal?

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits the possession and use of medical cannabis in certain forms and for certain medical conditions with an appropriate provider recommendation. However, in the United States, cannabis/marijuana is illegal under federal law, as it’s classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning the Drug Enforcement Agency considers it to have no accepted medical use and the potential for abuse.

Possession or use of medical cannabis could potentially impact your employment or job prospects, workers compensation, professional licensing, and other aspects of your life. A medical cannabis letter or card doesn’t excuse you from any violation of federal laws regarding cannabis and doesn’t authorize you to violate other policies and laws, including Utah law prohibiting driving with any measurable amount of a controlled substance in the body. A letter or card may not prevent local, state, or federal enforcement agencies and prosecutors from taking enforcement actions against you related to your use or possession of medical cannabis.

You should seriously consider these and other issues before deciding to pursue or continue treatment with medical cannabis.

How can I get a letter for medical cannabis?

Start by talking to your medical provider. Each patient and circumstance is unique and requests for a letter indicating a qualifying medical condition for medical cannabis are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Why is it called a “letter” instead of a “prescription?”

Under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, certain providers may, under certain circumstances, recommend treatment with medical cannabis. This typically takes the form of a letter. Current state and federal law do not permit medical cannabis prescriptions.

What is a “qualifying condition?”

See the full list of qualifying conditions under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act on the Utah Department of Health website (question 6).

If I have a qualifying condition, is my provider required to give me a letter?

No. Providers aren’t required to recommend treatment with medical cannabis, even if a patient has a qualifying condition. The decision to recommend medical cannabis is made on a case-by-case, individualized basis.

What’s the difference between medical cannabis and CBD?

The cannabis plant produces two main chemical compounds: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD.

CBD products are commonly derived from hemp, a strain of the cannabis plant that has historically been used to make industrial products like cement, paper, clothing, and more. CBD products derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC are governed by the Utah Department of Agriculture, which has established rules for the sale and purchase of CBD in Utah. CBD products that have registered with the Department, meeting all testing, labeling, and other requirements as established by rule, may be purchased in the state of Utah. A provider letter or card is not required to purchase or use CBD.

If a product contains more than 0.3% THC it’s considered cannabis/marijuana, which means use and possession must comply with the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, including provider recommendation, qualifying condition, medicinal dosage form, and quantity limits.

What forms of medical cannabis are allowed?

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act allows for a variety of forms and delivery methods, including tablets, capsules, concentrated oils, and topical preparations. A detailed list of these forms can be found on the Utah Medical Cannabis Fact Sheet, which is provided by the Utah Department of Health.

It’s important to understand that smoking cannabis is not permitted by the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. However, you may purchase a device that warms (without a flame) cannabis material into a vapor, which can then be inhaled. Also, edible products (besides gelatinous cubes) such as candies, cookies, and brownies are not permitted under Utah law.

Where can I get medical cannabis?

By March 2020 Utah is expected to open state-licensed medical cannabis pharmacies where qualifying patients can legally purchase medical cannabis in Utah. In addition, the state central fill pharmacy will deliver medical cannabis to local health department locations throughout Utah. Until then, there are no facilities in Utah licensed to legally sell medical cannabis.

Will Intermountain Healthcare dispense medical cannabis?

No, Intermountain Healthcare facilities will not dispense medical cannabis. Please visit the Utah Department of Health to learn more about medical cannabis.

Please visit the Utah Department of Health to learn more about medical cannabis.