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New push to legalize smokeable hemp in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – It is legal to possess hemp in Utah. But it is also against the law to smoke it, distribute it, or market the plant, and some people in the state want those rules to change.

More and more people across the country are smoking hemp because they believe it has the health benefits of medicinal marijuana, including pain and anxiety management, without the high.

Unlike marijuana, hemp has 0.3% or less of the psychoactive chemical THC. Some users also mix hemp with their medicinal marijuana to reduce the amount of THC they ingest.

J.D. Lauritzen, an attorney in Salt Lake City, is one of the people who would like to see Utah’s laws banning hemp smoking to change because he feels it would give patients more options.

“I don’t see it being any more harmful than a number of things we allow people to ingest every single day…smoking is still one of the best delivery methods [for hemp],” Lauritzen said.

There are no official, major scientific studies on the potential health benefits of hemp.

But Lauritzen also believes Utah’s laws hurt farmers and growers.

“The problematic part is businesses hoping to distribute it or market it cannot do so without running afoul of the law and potentially putting their license, their state license, at risk,” Lauritzen says.

And that, he argues, hurts their bottom lines.

Some states have moved to ban smokeable hemp, in part, because some law enforcement agencies worry they will not be able to tell the difference between marijuana, which is illegal under federal law, and hemp, which is legal.

It’s unclear how many Utahns or local law enforcement agencies support legalized smokeable hemp.