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Utah Licenses Medical Cannabis Cultivators

by Ella Young August 08, 2019

On December 3, 2018, Utah lawmakers passed House Bill 3001: Utah Medical Cannabis Act. The legislation replaced Proposition 2, which was approved by voters earlier that year during the general election to legalize a medical cannabis program for the state.

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The bill establishes a regulated dispensing system of medical cannabis cultivators, medical cannabis processors, and medical cannabis pharmacies (dispensaries). The Utah Department of Health has authority over medical cannabis pharmacies and registering medical cannabis patients and providers and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has authority over cannabis cultivation and processing.

On July 19, 2019, the Utah Department of Agriculture selected 8 companies out of 81 applicants to award Medical Cannabis Cultivation Licenses to. The department was authorized to award up to 10 licenses but chose to hand out only 8 to avoid an overabundance of cannabis.

Recently, Utah officials have dismissed appeals from six companies (Pure UT, North Star Holdings, Total Health Sciences, Wild West Holding, JLPR and Tintic United Bioscience) that were not granted licenses for growing. Concerns were raised that challenged the state’s decision on the number of licenses awarded as well as the qualifications of applicants which of whom were not successful.

 The eight successful licensees include Dragonfly Greenhouse, Harvest of Utah, Oakbridge Greenhouses, Standard Wellness Utah, True North of Utah, Tryke Companies Utah, Wholesome Ag., and Zion Cultivars.

The patient demand in Utah is high, projected at 100,000 assumed patients which is more than double the Utah health department’s suggested estimate. Arriola, a board member of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, a medical marijuana advocacy group in Utah believes that the projections are on the lower end and could be as close as 180,000. Medical marijuana shortages are prevalent and have been shown in previous programs/markets. Shortages have been reported in New Jersey, which estimated it will need to increase the number of cannabis growers from six to 24 to supply a projected 180,000 patients by 2022. Connecticut is another example of lack of inventory as it relies on four producers to grow cannabis for nearly 26,000 patients.

“The lesson there is that pretty much always, the amount of market demand is underestimated,” said Arriola. 

The Department of Agriculture will soon begin accepting applications for medical cannabis processing licenses. Andrew Rigby, the medical cannabis program director, stated licensed cultivators will be allowed to apply for processing licenses too, which many have stated interest in doing so. 

Utah Medical Marijuana Program Timeline

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) will implement the following activities by March 1, 2020:

  • Issue medical cannabis cards to patients
  • Register medical providers who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment for their patients
  • License medical cannabis pharmacies

 

Date

Regulatory Action

May 3, 2019

Emergency rules for the medical cannabis grower rule went into effect

May 15, 2019

Medical cannabis growers rules published: 30 day comment period begins

May 31, 2019

Request for Proposals period for Cannabis Cultivation Licenses open

June 5, 2019

Public hearing on draft rules: 2:00-3:00 PM at 350 North Redwood Road. Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

June 14, 2019

Public comment period ends on medical cannabis grower rules

June 21, 2019

Earliest date the medical cannabis grower rules can go into effect

July 1, 2019

Request for Proposals period for Cannabis Cultivation Licenses closes

July 19, 2019

Cannabis Cultivation Licenses awarded to 8 companies

March 1, 2020

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) to issue medical cannabis cards to patients, register medical providers who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment for their patients, and license medical cannabis pharmacies.

 

Link to General Rules for Cannabis Production Establishments: https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title4/Chapter41A/C4-41a_2018120320181203.pdf

Link to Emergency Rules for Cannabis Cultivation: https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/bull_pdf/2019/b20190515.pdf

 

Interested in applying for Utah’s Medical Cannabis Processing or Pharmacy Licenses?

Learn what will be involved in the state’s application process with our Utah Dispensary Application Guide & Checklist. The guide provides a step-by-step checklist of over 100 action items to complete prior to submitting your application for a marijuana business license. Learn about business application topics from real estate and financial planning to staffing and team building activities.

 Get Utah Application Guide