If voters pass the medical marijuana initiative in November, it would require that licensed dispensaries open by Jan. 1, 2021 — or eligible Utah residents could legally grow up to six plants of their own for personal use.
State officials warned Monday that they might not be able to legally write, receive public comment and implement needed rules quickly enough to meet that deadline — triggering the possibility of patients growing their own marijuana.
“We will move as quickly as we can. The challenge is, I don’t know if it is achievable based on timelines in the initiative,” Scott Erickson, deputy state agriculture commissioner told the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee.
Initiative backers question that.
“We can be thankful for the 30 other states that have already implemented medical cannabis programs, and use them as an example of how to implement this properly,” said DJ Schanz, director of the Utah Patients Coalition. “The home-grow provision was put in specifically because we want this to be implemented in a timely manner.”
But Erickson said he foresees challenges based on the state’s experience so far in writing new rules to implement other just-passed legislation on industrial hemp, CBD oil and limited medical marijuana for terminally ill patients.
He projects, for example, that the Department of Food and Agriculture will not be able to jump through all the hoops required for public comment and finalizing rules on legal medical marijuana for terminally ill patients until next March — a year after the Legislature and governor enacted the law. And that assumes that everything goes relatively smoothly.
If public comments point out legitimate problems that would force rewriting draft rules — and require repeating the whole process, he said. That