SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Utah Department of Health announced Friday the 14 pharmacies that will be licensed to sell medical marijuana in the state of Utah.
Beginning in March, locations in Salt Lake City, Logan, Ogden and others will get licenses to sell medical cannabis to patients.
“That’s a major milestone for a lot of reasons. These companies can start to verify their locations and hire employees and really make some serious preparations for March when they plan to, when some of them will need to be rolling out,” Richard Oborn, director of the Utah Department of Health’s Center of Medical Cannabis, told the Deseret News.
The licenses will be distributed based on four geographic regions in Utah, distributed throughout the state allowing for more access. The locations will begin opening in two phases: ight of the locations will open in March with another six near the beginning of July.
The health department selected the chosen pharmacies out of 130 applicants.
Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute, a nonprofit organization advocating for the use of medical marijuana, called the number of pharmacies with granted licenses a huge milestone. With this, he said they hope to get the intended program going in the next few months.
“We’ve been working for years for moments like this, and it’s very gratifying to see the progress. Looking forward, we are working on some important changes for the upcoming legislative session to make this program even better for patients,” Boyack said in a statement.
A majority of Utah voters approved the use of medical marijuana in November 2018, voting for Proposition 2 that would legalize doctor-approved use of the drug. However, state lawmakers replaced that measure the next month placing tighter control over the production and distribution of medical marijuana.
Shortly after, an alternative bill was passed during a special session that allowed for 14 pharmacies in Utah to sell medical cannabis.
Richard Oborn told the Deseret News said this bill change was crucial to getting this program started.
“We’re very excited to have a program that will be able to help patients, that’ll be able to register providers, and that’ll be able to educate the public about medical cannabis,” Oborn said. “We’re excited to bring in some partners with the medical cannabis pharmacies, and they’ll be able to provide products directly to patients who qualify and who are in need of having their product convenient. Being able to purchase it in Utah is a big deal to them.”
Next steps include educating the public and health care providers on the effects of medical marijuana throughout January and February, said Oborn.
“It’s all about educating providers so they can make a critical decision about whether they want to recommend medical cannabis or not,” Oborn said. “Whether they choose to or not, that’s up to them. But regardless, they should learn generally about the product, because a lot of their patients are going to be asking about it.”
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