Utah lawmakers vote to increase medical marijuana dispensaries to 14

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Utah legislators unanimously passed legislation allowing 14 private medical cannabis dispensaries, substantially boosting the business opportunities for a program scheduled to launch as soon as March 2020.

The measure, voted on during a special session called by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, amends the state’s MMJ law that called for a state-run pharmacy system combined with seven private dispensaries.

An earlier proposal would have increased the number of private dispensaries from seven to 12, but lawmakers responded to concerns that a dozen wouldn’t be enough to serve the state.

The bill now goes to Herbert for his expected signature.

Utah backtracked from the state-run dispensary after county attorneys expressed concern that such a system would put public employees at risk of being prosecuted under federal drug laws.

Here are key business aspects to Utah’s MMJ bill:

  • State regulators will issue up to 14 dispensary licenses, eight in a first round and six in a second phase. The bill calls for regulators to complete the licensing process by July 1, 2020.
  • The state will be divided into no fewer than four geographic regions and regulators must issue at least one license for each geographic region.
  • Regulators would be allowed to issue additional dispensary licenses if warranted by a market analysis.
  • Regulators also could increase the number of cultivation licenses from eight to as many as 15 if needed to balance supply and demand.
  • Couriers would be licensed for home delivery.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, who drafted the law, said his team is “doing everything we can” to have product ready by next March.

 Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily