Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys / Former Prosecutors
Call 801-449-1409. We fight to protect your rights.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Finding a Felony Defense LawyerChoosing a Misdemeanor Defense LawyerDrug and Alcohol Crimes Defense LawyerWhite Collar Defense Attorney for Utah ChargesAttorney for Expungements Reductions and PardonsDefendant Constitutional Rights Criminal LawyerBail and Bond Alternatives in UtahReasons for Hope Facing Criminal Charges

Medical Marijuana in Utah - Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

As medical marijuana use becomes legalized in more and more states, people traveling to or through Utah increasingly find themselves facing criminal prosecution for a substance that they are possessing or using for medical purposes. Utah law does not recognize marijuana prescriptions or medical marijuana cards from other states. Thus, possessing marijuana in Utah can lead to misdemeanor or felony criminal charges.

If you are facing prosecution for marijuana possession or other criminal charges, an experienced criminal attorney Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard is a criminal defense lawyer who has successfully defended his clients' rights in thousands of Utah felony and misdemeanor cases. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential attorney consultation.

Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Purposes in Utah

The use of medical marijuana has been a controversial issue. Medical uses for marijuana are documented by some of the leading medical researchers in the country. However, there is still a strong association for many people between marijuana and "hard" drugs and other criminal activity. While some states have legalized the possession of marijuana for medical use as well as the production of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, Utah law still generally makes marijuana illegal to possess for any purpose.

Utah Marijuana Defense AttorneyEven if your doctor has recommended or prescribed the use of marijuana for medical purposes, you could still find yourself facing prosecution in Utah for possession of a controlled substance or possession with the intent to distribute. Medical marijuana possession can be a problem particularly for people visiting Utah or traveling through the state on their way somewhere else. While you may have a prescription that was legitimately issued in another state, and your use of marijuana may be strictly for medical purposes, you can still find yourself facing prosecution.

Beginning in 2014, the Utah legislature enacted an exception to the general prohibition against marijuana for medical purposes. The Utah Controlled Substances Act was amended to include a new section 58-37-4.3 (see full text below) that legalizes the possession or use of certain hemp extracts only for the treatment of "intractable" epilepsy. Strict conditions must be met to qualify for this exception. But other than this limited exception, Utah generally does not recognize medical marijuana as an exception to the criminal laws governing controlled substances and the possession of marijuana.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Utah

Criminal charges for marijuana possession in Utah begin at the class B misdemeanor level. Depending on the amount of marijuana possessed, the proximity to a drug free zone, and any intent to distribute, the penalties can be increased to the felony level in some cases.

Even at the class B misdemeanor level, a conviction for possession of marijuana carries the possibility of up to six months in prison and a fine (including surcharge) of up to $1,900. As a third-degree felony, possession of marijuana (either by amount or for distribution) can carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine (including surcharge) of up to $9,500.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Utah Criminal Defense AttorneyBased in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has achieved not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and reversals on appeal for clients facing some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah. If you are facing prosecution for possession of medical marijuana, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


Full Text of Utah Code 58-37-4.3

Following is the full text of Utah Code 58-37-4.3, which provides limited exceptions to Utah's controlled substance laws for the possession of hemp extract for medical purposes. (Analysis and commentary are in italics.)

Utah Code 58-37-4.3 - Exemption for Use or Possession of Hemp Extract

Subsection (1) provides a narrow definition for the term "hemp extract" as used in this statute. The extract can contain only limited THC and must contain no other psychoactive substances.

(1) As used in this section, "hemp extract" means an extract from a cannabis plant, or a mixture or preparation containing cannabis plant material, that:
  (a) is composed of less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol by weight;
  (b) is composed of at least 15% cannabidiol by weight; and
  (c) contains no other psychoactive substance.

Subsection (2) sets forth the conditions under which a person may possess or use hemp extract as defined under subsection (1). The exceptions only apply if the hemp extract is being used to treat "intractable" epilepsy, the hemp extract meets certain restrictions, and the person possessing or using the hemp extract has a current registration card issued by the Department of Health.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, an individual who possesses or uses hemp extract is not subject to the penalties described in this chapter for possession or use of the hemp extract if the individual:
  (a) possesses or uses the hemp extract only to treat intractable epilepsy, as defined in Section 26-56-102;
  (b) originally obtained the hemp extract from a sealed container with a label indicating the hemp extract's place of origin, and a number that corresponds with a certificate of analysis;
  (c) possesses, in close proximity to the hemp extract, a certificate of analysis that:
    (i) has a number that corresponds with the number on the label described in Subsection (2)(b);
    (ii) indicates the hemp extract's ingredients, including its percentages of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol by weight;
    (iii) is created by a laboratory that is:
      (A) not affiliated with the producer of the hemp extract; and
      (B) licensed in the state where the hemp extract was produced; and
    (iv) is transmitted by the laboratory to the Department of Health; and
  (d) has a current hemp extract registration card issued by the Department of Health under Section 26-56-103.

Subsection (3) extends the exceptions under subsection (2) to a parent or legal guardian who administers hemp extract to a minor.

(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, an individual who possesses hemp extract lawfully under Subsection (2) and administers hemp extract to a minor is not subject to the penalties described in this chapter for administering the hemp extract to the minor if:
  (a) the individual is the minor's parent or legal guardian; and
  (b) the individual is registered with the Department of Health as the minor's parent under Section 26-56-103.

Finding a Marijuana Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

If you are facing prosecution for marijuana possession or other criminal charges, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard has successfully defended his clients' rights in drug cases ranging from first-degree felony distribution to misdemeanor possession charges. He has also successfully handled a wide range of other criminal cases ranging from homicide to DUI, and virtually everything in between.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential attorney consultation.

Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Get Help Now
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Criminal Appeals Defense AttorneyDismissed on Appeal - DUI case was dismissed after a successful appeal where the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the defense motion to suppress. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecutor acknowledged that they did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and the case was dismissed.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Utah Burglary Attorney Dismissal - Client was charged with first-degree felony home burglary and facing potential life in prison. Defense analysis revealed flaws in prosecutor's case which led to abeyance agreement intended to lead to a full dismissal of the case.
  • Recent Posts
  • What to Do When Arrested for DUI What should I do if I am arrested for DUI? - Many DUI cases begin as minor traffic stops. But the consequences of a DUI conviction are much more serious than an ordinary traffic citation. If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you have specific important constitutional and statutory rights that can protect your. . . .
  • Utah Statewide Warrant Search How do I find out if I have an outstanding warrant? - If you believe you may have an outstanding arrest warrant in Utah, a criminal defense attorney can access the Utah statewide warrant system and help you find the best. . . .
Best Criminal Defense Strategy

Aggressive is good. Effective is better. The best defense strategy in any given criminal case can require in-depth analysis of the facts and a thorough understanding of applicable statutes, case law, and complex procedural and evidentiary rules. Having an experienced attorney on your side....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

With decades of combined experience, our criminal defense team attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and determination to help you achieve the results you need. Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can have serious consequences. Choosing the best attorney to defend your case may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences in Utah Criminal Prosecutions

Jail time, prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and the lifetime collateral consequences of having a criminal conviction on your record - all of these and more are at stake when you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah. Understanding what is at risk is critical. Even so-called "minor" misdemeanor cases can have serious consequences....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Reasons to Hope

Never give up hope. Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. And it is usually not the end of the world. While the consequences of a criminal charge can be serious, there are often several options and strategies for handling your case. Understanding your options and how an experienced criminal lawyer can help....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.