Medical cannabis supporters voice concern over black market THC products

SALT LAKE CITY — Advocates for the legalization of medical cannabis in Utah are warning patients about black market products being sold illegally.

Local authorities recently announced two incidents where more than 2,000 THC vaping cartridges were seized and a total of four people arrested for intent to distribute.

The Utah Department of Health released the results this week of a 2-month-long study, finding unregulated and illegal products played a big role in many people becoming sick after vaping.

“We need to remind people it’s medical cannabis. It needs to be treated like a medication,” said Desiree Hennessy with the Utah Patients Coalition. “When we passed the Medical Cannabis Act, we did it to draw these people out of the black market.”

For now, the only way for Utahns who rely on medical cannabis to obtain the drug is to travel to states like Colorado, Nevada or California where it is legal (Qualifying patients with a doctor's recommendation can possess personal quantities within the law.). Black market dealers may be exploiting that inconvenience.

“When a lot of people were upset we were allowing patients to, quote-unquote, 'break federal law' to go out of state and get it, this is exactly why we needed that in there. We needed to be able to offer them a safe place to get their medication,” Hennessy said.

Dispensaries in Utah are set to open in March 2020. Until then, Hennessy hopes patients use common sense when acquiring their medication.

“If you are going to be inhaling something, make sure that it has been tested. The tested products are going to come from a medical cannabis dispensary,” Hennessy said.

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