Utah lawmakers consider ditching state-run medical cannabis system

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Utah legislators are drafting a proposal to scrap a planned state-run medical marijuana dispensary system and instead increase the number of private facilities, which could boost business opportunities and sales.

Lawmakers are considering the change after facing pressure from county attorneys who said the system put public employees at risk of being prosecuted under federal drug laws.

The law now calls for seven private “cannabis pharmacies” with a state-run “central fill pharmacy” distributing the remainder of medical marijuana orders through Utah’s 13 local health departments.

Under the proposal, according to Republican Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, medical cannabis would instead be distributed through up to 12 private dispensaries.

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, has hinted about calling a special session where those changes could be approved, although no timetable has been announced.

Marijuana advocates have complained that Utah’s MMJ law is too restrictive, noting that the voter-approved initiative called for about 20 dispensaries statewide.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily