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Utah Appoints Medical Cannabis Policy Advisory Board

The board will make policy change recommendations to state lawmakers and state regulators in an effort to aid patients, medical providers and medical cannabis operators in the state.

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Salt Lake City — Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Tracy Gruber recently announced the appointment of nine board members to the newly created Medical Cannabis Policy Advisory Board (MCPAB).

According to Gruber, the MCPAB will make policy change recommendations to state lawmakers and state regulators in an effort to aid patients, medical providers and medical cannabis operators in the state.

The MCPAB was created during the 2023 general legislative session with the passing of House Bill 72 Medical Cannabis Governance Revisions. The board will make policy recommendations to DHHS, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) and state lawmakers.

Of the nine board members, six were appointed by Gruber and three were appointed by UDAF Commissioner Craig Buttars.

  • Susan Jackson, MPAS, PA-C is a physician assistant and qualified medical provider (QMP) who has participated in the state’s medical cannabis program since April 2020. She is employed as a medical provider at Quintessence Health and Wellness in Draper, where she helps patients with medical management of pain, hormone replacement, mental health treatment, weight loss, and aesthetics.
  • Misty Smith, PhD is a research assistant professor at the University of Utah, College of Pharmacy, Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Ms. Smith has been a member of the Cannabis Research Review Board (CRRB) since May 2021. She has over 20 years of experience as a basic science researcher in behavioral pharmacology and holds the DEA Schedule I & II-V controlled substance licenses and Schedule I import/export licenses for an Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP) control site.
  • Annalise Keen, MD is a psychiatrist and a QMP. Dr. Keen has been a QMP since May 2021 and is a member of the Compassionate Use Board (CUB) since May 2021. Dr. Keen is employed at Teenscope and Kidstar Day Treatment Programs and is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Utah Dept. of Psychiatry, Division of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry. She performs evaluation and management of child and adolescent patients, coordination of day treatment rotations for adult psychiatry residents and direct supervision of adult psychiatry residents, triple board residents, and child and adolescent psychiatry fellows.
  • Desiree Hennessy is the director of the Utah Patients Coalition (UPC). UPC is a non-profit organization that seeks to empower patients to make informed health decisions through advocating legal access to plant medicine in Utah. Desiree has helped patients with a variety of health conditions obtain safe and effective access to cannabis-based treatments.
  • Nanette Bereznhyy is a medical cannabis patient and parent to a child who participates in the state’s medical cannabis program. Ms. Bereznhyy has held a medical cannabis guardian card since December 2020 and has held her own medical cannabis patient card since June 2021.
  • Kent Andersen is a member of the public who does not hold a medical cannabis card. Kent is the Community and Economic Development director for Davis County. As director, he manages the county’s operations related to economic development, planning/building/transportation, and tourism and events.
  • Matthew Page is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Riverside Farms, a licensed cannabis cultivator and processor located in Box Elder County. Matthew worked with other license holders to produce products that were available to patients at the state’s first medical cannabis pharmacy in March 2020. Riverside Farms is not vertically-integrated in the state, as it does not also own a medical cannabis pharmacy license.
  • JD Lauritzen is an attorney at WholesomeCo, a medical cannabis pharmacy in West Bountiful. He has expertise in medical cannabis pharmacy operations, particularly vertically-integrated medical cannabis pharmacies. WholesomeCo is a vertically integrated cannabis company in the state, as it also has a cannabis cultivation and processing license.
  • Jimmy Higgs is a state trooper and deputy commissioner at the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS). With more than 24 years of public safety experience, Deputy Commissioner Higgs has served in various capacities, including Utah Highway Patrol trooper, executive protection detail, and executive officer to the commissioner of Public Safety. He oversees three divisions at DPS: the State Bureau of Investigations, the State Information and Analysis Center, and the State Crime Lab. 

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