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Who can possess medical marijuana if Prop. 2 passes?

FILE PHOTO -- Medical marijuana cultivation facility, in Milford, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

SALT LAKE CITY — Controversy is swirling over the Utah Medical Cannabis Act and what might happen if it passes. Some people have concerns about how medical marijuana patients would qualify for prescriptions, how to prevent the drug from being abused or used recreationally, and the amounts a person could legally possess.

Should the ballot initiative pass next month, exactly who could legally possess medical marijuana?

“You have to have a physician’s recommendation and you have to have a specific qualifying condition that is on the approved list,” says Libertas Institute for Utah President Connor Boyack. “So only if you match that criteria would you be authorized under the law to legally possess small amounts of cannabis that you can use for medicinal purposes only.”

Opponents of legalizing medical pot question just how easy it might be to qualify for a prescription.

“For example, someone with a hangnail or someone with a headache is going to qualify,” Boyack says. “That’s simply not true. The condition list is rather strict.”

The condition list includes more than a dozen severe illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Epilepsy, and Cancer. Other notable conditions qualify as well: Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, and HIV or AIDs.

That’s not necessarily the extent of who might qualify. Written into Prop 2. is what’s being called a Compassionate Use Board.

“What that means is that if a person in Utah is suffering from a condition that is not on the approved list, but they can benefit from cannabis, they can appeal to this board of five physicians who will review that particular patient’s case and make a determination if they should be given a one-off approval,” explains Boyack.

The ballot initiative sets max amounts of 2 ounces of unprocessed marijuana flowers, or 10 grams of processed THC found in edible items, oils, or other products. Anyone stopped with more than those amounts might be subject to misdemeanor or felony charges of marijuana possession.

Boyack says prescribing physicians will also be under a watchful eye.