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Utah’s New Medical Marijuana Program More Popular Than Officials Expected

10,000 active patients have received medical marijuana cards in Utah

Six months after medical marijuana became legal for purchase inside Utah for the first time, the program has already surpassed enrollment projections.

But high demand has also led to shortages in both product and providers interested in recommending medical marijuana to patients.

“It’s been going. It’s been going well, as with all new programs and people starting and really pushing to get up and going like they did early on — and now (producers) are starting to find their traction to be able to keep moving forward,” said Cody James, manager of the Utah Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp and Medical Cannabis Program.

“I don’t think that anybody had an idea as to the number of patients that Utah was going to see this early. … I think we’re exceeding all of the studies that we had on the number of patients,” James said.

Utah voters approved a ballot initiative in November 2018 legalizing doctor-approved marijuana treatment for certain health conditions. State lawmakers the next month replaced the measure with a law they say puts tighter controls on the production, distribution and use of the drug. Utah’s Medical Cannabis Act then went through multiple changes in subsequent legislative sessions before the program launched this March.

Now, 10,000 active medical cannabis patients have received medical marijuana cards — a number state officials said they didn’t expect to reach until one year into the program, said Richard Oborn, director of the Center for Medical Cannabis.

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