Compromise legislation modifies voter-approved medical marijuana law in Utah

Optum for Workers' Compensation
| Jan 15, 2019

After Utah voters approved medical marijuana in the November 2018 election, the governor called a special session of the state legislature to address alterations of the ballot initiative. The legislation to modify Proposition 2, which is a compromise between supporters and opponents of the medical marijuana law, passed quickly and was signed by the governor in early December.

HB 3001 makes a number of changes to the voter-approved law including:

  • Removing a provision allowing patients to grow their own marijuana.
  • Adding that a medical cannabis pharmacy shall employ a licensed pharmacist who may under certain conditions, upon the request of a medical cannabis cardholder, determine different dosing parameters to fill the quantity remaining of a partially-filled medical cannabis treatment recommendation.
  • Adding conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatment using specific named conditions, eliminating general terms used in Proposition 2 and providing for future approval of certain conditions on a patient-by-patient basis. Examples of added conditions include:
  1. A terminal illness when patient's remaining life expectancy is less than six months.
  2. A condition resulting in an individual receiving hospice care.
  3. 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.

Effect on Workers’ Comp
Noteworthy for both workers’ compensation and auto no-fault insurers, the legislation states that nothing requires an insurer, a third party administrator or an employer to pay or reimburse for cannabis, a cannabis product, or a medical cannabis device.

The approval of the original proposition and modifications made by the legislature do not directly impact medical treatment for workers’ compensation claims or permit medical marijuana usage as a treatment for workers’ compensation claims.

OWCA monitoring for future impact
The Optum Workers’ Comp and Auto No-fault (OWCA) Government Affairs team continues to monitor policy developments on medical marijuana, as we have experienced some trickle-down impact to workers’ compensation claims in some jurisdictions.

An enrolled copy of the compromise modifying legislation can be viewed online here.

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