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Utah Legalizes Medical Marijuana Research

Salt Lake City Lawyer for Medical Marijuana Arrests

In 2014, Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill (HB) 105, the Utah Industrial Hemp Research Act and Hemp Extract Registration Act. The bill—which exempted individuals with intractable epilepsy who use or possess extract from a cannabis plant, or a mixture or preparation containing cannabis plant material, that is composed of less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight, is composed of at least 15 percent cannabidiol (CBD) by weight, and contains no other psychoactive substance from the penalties related to possession or use of the hemp extract under the Controlled Substances Act—was named Charlee’s Law in honor of Charlee Nelson, a 6-year-old who the Daily Mail reported had as many as 500 seizures a day and suffered from the neurodegenerative disorder Batten disease.

In addition to lacking provisions that allowed potential users to acquire approved oils or cultivate marijuana, Charlee’s Law also had a sunset date of July 1, 2016. Governor Herbert signed a couple more bills this year that could give hope to Utah residents who are seeking medicinal marijuana.

On March 25, Governor Herbert signed both HB 130, otherwise known as the “Cannabinoid Research Act,” and Senate Bill (SB) 219, relating to CBD in drugs approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HB 130 allows a person conducting an approved study to, for the purposes of the study, process a cannabinoid product or an expanded cannabinoid product, possess a cannabinoid product or an expanded cannabinoid product, and administer a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product to an individual in accordance with the approved study.

Under HB 130, a person conducting an approved study may also import cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product from another state if the importation complies with federal law and the person uses the cannabis, cannabinoid product, or expanded cannabinoid product in accordance with the approved study, or obtain cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). A person conducting an approved study may also distribute cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product outside the state if the distribution complies with federal law and the distribution is for the purposes of, and in accordance with, the approved study.

SB 219 provides a schedule in the state Controlled Substances Act for CBD in a drug product approved by the FDA. While the Desert News reported on January 27 that state lawmakers were considering laying the groundwork for medicinal marijuana, they had no plans this year to make it legal in Utah. Representative Gage Froerer told the Desert News that lawmakers also wanted to “wait until the Trump administration’s stance on medical marijuana becomes clear.”

Salt Lake City Lawyer for Medical Marijuana Arrests

THC and synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the cannabis plant, or in the resinous extractives of cannabis, are classified as Schedule I controlled substances under the Utah Controlled Substances Act. THC and marijuana (referred to as “marihuana” in the statute) are also classified as Schedule I controlled substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), meaning that they are considered “drugs with no currently accepted medical use.”

Marijuana, however, has been routinely shown to control or decrease the symptoms associated with epileptic seizures or other severe seizure disorders. Smoking cannabis has also proven helpful for people suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and glaucoma.

Without access to legal marijuana or even CBD oils, many people with serious medical conditions who stand to benefit from cannabis use instead risk serious criminal penalties for possessing marijuana. While possession of smaller amounts of cannabis is usually a misdemeanor offense, repeat offenses or cases involving possession of larger amounts can lead to felony charges.

If you are arrested in Utah for alleged possession of marijuana that you needed to help treat you or your loved one’s medical condition, it is in your best interest to immediately contact an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. Darren Levitt is a lifetime member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a nonprofit organization with the mission “to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.”

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Identity Fraud Still Concern for IRS

Salt Lake City Identity Fraud Lawyer

Tax Day 2017, the IRS filing deadline for 2016 tax returns, falls on April 18 this year. The Desert News reported on April 3 that because many people pay other parties to prepare returns for them, officials with the IRS are cautioning taxpayers to “be wary of shady characters masquerading as professional preparers.”

Every year, the IRS releases a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams that includes a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft “remains a top item on the Dirty Dozen list because it remains an ongoing concern even though progress is being made.”

The agency said that the number of taxpayers reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns in 2016 fell by more than 50 percent, with nearly 275,000 fewer victims compared to a year ago. The IRS provides the following reminders for taxpayers and tax professionals:

  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on the computer. Use strong passwords.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as a bank, credit card company and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.

The crime commonly known as identity theft is referred to as identity fraud in the Utah Code. The offense is typically a third-degree felony when the value of the credit, goods, services, employment, or any other thing of value involved is less than $5,000, but the crime can become a second-degree felony if the value is or exceeds $5,000, or if the use of personal identifying information results, directly or indirectly, in bodily injury of another person.

Lawyer for Identity Fraud Arrests in Salt Lake City

An alleged offender commits the crime of identity fraud in Utah under Utah Code § 76-6-1102 when he or she knowingly or intentionally uses, or attempts to use, the personal identifying information of another person, whether that person is alive or deceased, with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, employment, any other thing of value, or medical information. Personal identifying information can include a name, birth date, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, Social Security number, place of employment, employee identification numbers or other personal identification numbers, mother’s maiden name, electronic identification numbers, a photograph or any other realistic likeness, electronic signatures under Title 46, Chapter 4, Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, or any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person’s financial resources or medical information, except for numbers or information that can be prosecuted as financial transaction card offenses.

When a person is accused of committing an identity fraud offense or any white collar crime in Utah, it is critical to immediately seek the help of an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. Many alleged offenders in these types of cases had no intent to obtain goods or services through fraud. Some people face these charges as the result of using personal information at the request of the alleged victims.

A lawyer may be able to uncover flaws in a prosecutor’s case that lead to criminal charges being minimized or completely eliminated. If you think that you might be under investigation or you have already been arrested in Utah for alleged identity fraud, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible for help achieving the most favorable possible resolution to your case.

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Darren Levitt participates in a variety of legal associations to give you well-rounded, insightful defense strategies.

Member of the
American Bar Association

Member of the Utah
Association of Criminal
Defense Lawyers

Member of the NORML
Legal Committee