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Private pharmacies to dispense medicinal marijuana in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Legislature has made significant changes to the way medicinal marijuana will be distributed in the state.

Lawmakers agreed to license 14 private pharmacies to distribute the drug, which will be phased in by July 2020.

Pharmacies working in coordination with county health departments will be allowed to make door-to-door deliveries.

Under provisions in the law, the Utah Department of Agriculture and the Utah Department of Health can also recommend that the state license more pharmacies than the original 14 based on market demand.

The number of licenses had been the biggest bone of contention, with some wanting to adhere to Proposition 2’s original regulations, while others wanted a much lower cap. However, lawmakers worked out a deal before bringing the bill to a vote Monday night.

Some of the other provisions in the bill allow for electronic medical cannabis cards, as well as let the University of Utah and Utah State do research on medicinal marijuana that’s grown in the state.

There are still concerns from some lawmakers about how rural residents will be able to access their medication and whether they will pay more than other people in Utah.

However, most skeptics, like Logan Representative Christine Watkins, ended up supporting the bill.

“As the need arises, there will be the availability of more licenses. And I think that we will be, at least in the beginning, meeting the needs of our people,” Watkins said.

Some lawmakers also said they would introduce amendments to the law in future sessions.

Lawmakers decided to modify the medicinal marijuana law after Davis and Salt Lake counties said they would not participate in a government-run dispensary system. Both county District Attorneys said that system would put their health departments on the wrong side of federal law.