SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's Department of Agriculture and Food will begin the process to determine how it will grow marijuana for terminally ill patients.
The agency announced Wednesday it would hold an April 19 public hearing to discuss rules for cannabis and hemp growing, as well as regulations for newly legalized CBD oil.
"We don't really know what it's going to look like" said agency spokesman Jack Wilbur. "All we have are the words in the legislation."
It's an unfunded mandate, so agriculture officials must decide if they grow the marijuana themselves or contract with a third-party. The agency wants public comment on the specific regulations. Farmers will be allowed to apply to grow industrialized hemp, and there will be inspection and labeling standards for CBD oil.
"This will help us establish that ability to license, test and label those products so what you see is what you get," Wilbur said of CBD oil sales in Utah.
Wilbur cautioned that the public comment beginning at 8:30 a.m. on April 19 at the State Office Building would be limited to the rules for those particular bills. People could ask to speak by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawmakers passed the bills ahead of a ballot initiative on medical cannabis that is poised to get before voters in November. The Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food said it did not know what the ballot initiative could do to their rule-making process, if it were to pass.
The state is dipping a toe into the medical marijuana issue by passing a law giving patients with less than six months to live a "right to try" medical marijuana. Advocates for the ballot initiative have argued it does not do enough for a longer list of patients who could benefit from marijuana.
Utah is also facing some pressure from recreational marijuana sales in Colorado and Nevada. The casino border town of West Wendover has been considering recreational marijuana sales and Mayor Daniel Corona said Wednesday he hoped Utah's medical marijuana ballot initiative would pass.
"I'm hoping Utah's move might light a fire," he told FOX 13. "Because medical sales will probably be cut if there's medical dispensaries in Utah."
So far, the West Wendover City Council has been reluctant to approve recreational cannabis sales (they are allowing medical marijuana sales to proceed first). Mayor Corona has been telling his constituents to contact the council if they want recreational marijuana. He said the ballot initiative in Utah may force the council to take action.
"Utah is so strict with their liquor laws, I doubt they'll be very lenient with whatever the medical regulations end up coming out," the mayor said. "That would be what we have to offer... recreational and the pot tourism."