Utah’s medical marijuana law could be a source of a lot of potential confusion, said Dale Eyre, Sevier County attorney.
Voters in the state approved a measure that allows for legal use of medical marijuana in November 2018. The Utah Legislature then held a special session where the law was modified.
However, the primary question when it comes to pot is what is legal, and what is not?
“You cannot smoke it,” Eyre said. “That hasn’t changed.”
Eyre held a copy of Utah’s medical marijuana law up in front of a group of law enforcement officers Monday afternoon.
“This is more than 200 pages, and you don’t want to get into the details of it during a traffic stop,” Eyre said.
Instead of focusing on the minutia of the law, Eyre said Sevier County is adopting a policy of seize and cite for people who can’t produce a medical marijuana card.
“If they can’t produce a card, just seize the marijuana, cite them and send them down the road,” Eyre said. He said this approach allows the legal issues to be sorted out in the courtroom.
The policy would allow people a chance to prove they had the marijuana legally in court. If they can, it would returned to them.
“There are no damages with a citation,” Eyre said. “It will be easier on you and us.”
The goal of the policy is to allow police officers and the county attorney’s office to make sense of the new law, while still being able to enforce illegal possession. The goal is to limit liability to agencies and officers and prevent false arrests, Eyre said.
People who can produce a medical card will not be charged with a crime, unless there is a separate clear violation of the law.
“You still can’t have half a pound or more,” Eyre said. He said distributable amounts of marijuana could still result in criminal charges.
Technically, possession of marijuana under the new law is limited to medical doses — one-ounce blister packs of raw marijuana, unflavored square gummies, oils and extracts.
“It’s going to be a while before you see any blister packs in the state,” Eyre said. He said while it may be up to a year before cards are issued and medical dosages are distributed, officers need to gear up for the changes now. The medical marijuana law does not affect Utah’s driving under the influence laws and enforcement, Eyre said.
“We still enforce impairment,” Eyre said. “You can’t drive while impaired on THC.”
He said blood tests can and should be used when charging someone with a THC-related DUI.
The laws concerning medical marijuana will likely continue to evolve, as will how they are enforced, Eyre said.
“The law is very complicated, and we want to make it as simple as we can,” Eyre said.