Every year, a well-known cannabis advocacy organization known as NORML puts out its list of top cannabis reforms. They are all legislative reforms, mostly at the state level. We are proud to say that Utah made the 2022 list for two separate reforms you may already be familiar with.
NORML cited 2022 legislation that protects public sector workers from medical cannabis discrimination. They also cited acute pain being added to the state’s qualifying conditions list.
We are in complete agreement as to the magnitude of these two changes. We also see even better things on the horizon. As lawmakers work together with the DHHS, medical cannabis advocates, and the industry as a whole, our medical cannabis program just keeps getting better.
Public Sector Worker Protections
Just in case you’ve not yet been brought up to speed, the spring legislation written to protect public sector workers came about as a result of a Utah firefighter potentially losing his job after it was discovered that he possessed a medical cannabis card.
He took his employer to court based on two principles: he did not use cannabis at work and his off-duty consumption did not affect his ability to do his job safely and effectively. Though he won his case, lawmakers still felt it necessary to codify new worker protections so that the same thing doesn’t happen again.
Under the new law, public sector employers must treat medical cannabis just like any other prescription drug. Employees cannot be discriminated against for possessing a valid medical cannabis card. And as long as medical cannabis consumption doesn’t inhibit an employee’s ability to do their job, it’s a nonissue for employers.
Adding Acute Pain to the Qualifying Conditions List
While the public sector employer issue was a big win for employees and workers’ rights advocates, an equally big win was scored by medical professionals and others hoping to do something meaningful about the opioid crisis. Getting acute pain added to the state’s qualifying conditions list constitutes a pretty significant change.
Prior to the rule change, only chronic pain qualified for medical cannabis. The new rule allows treating certain types of acute pain with medical cannabis. There are some conditions, including the following:
- The pain must last, or be expected to last, a minimum of two weeks
- The pain is such that opioid medications would otherwise be prescribed.
The point of the legislation is to give patients another choice. Two groups of people are most affected by the change: those anticipating major surgery for which opioids would normally be taken and patients recovering from accidents, injuries, or other illnesses who would otherwise be given opioids.
Looking Forward to the Next Session
Looking back on the 2022 legislative session encourages us that Utah’s medical cannabis program is moving in the right direction. We appreciate all the efforts of the many volunteers, industry representatives, and lawmakers who have continued to fight the good fight on behalf of the state’s medical cannabis patients. We are looking forward to the next legislative session now scheduled to begin in just a couple of months.
Meanwhile, our hats are off to NORML and all the great work they do. We appreciate their willingness to recognize Utah as being among those states that have done the best job at enacting cannabis reform. No doubt there is still more work to do.
If you believe you qualify for medical cannabis, the first step is to apply for your medical cannabis card. With card in hand, you can visit Beehive Farmacy in Salt Lake City or Brigham City to purchase your medications.