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More than 130 have applied to run just 14 medical cannabis ‘pharmacies’ in Utah

Posted at 9:37 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 23:37:29-05

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 130 have applied to run 14 medical cannabis “pharmacies” that will be located across the state.

The Utah Department of Health told FOX 13 the applications will now be reviewed, and the agency said a committee expects to select the winning bids by January. The winners will run cannabis dispensaries (that lawmakers have referred to as “pharmacies”) to distribute marijuana to qualifying patients.

Voters last year approved Proposition 2, which legalized medical cannabis in Utah. The legislature then replaced the citizen ballot initiative with its own bill crafted as a compromise between supporters and opponents of Prop. 2. The bill creates a more regulated system in Utah, including limits on the numbers of pharmacies.

The legislature originally created a system where county health departments would distribute medical cannabis. That was repealed after FOX 13 reported on concerns by local prosecutors that county government workers could potentially face criminal charges for dealing a controlled substance.

Lawmakers instead increased the number of pharmacies. Some medical cannabis advocates have complained that 14 is still too few, and that it could unfairly harm patients in rural communities.

Utah is expected to have its medical cannabis system up and running by March 2020.