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Utah Department of Health seeks medical marijuana pharmacy applicants

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In this Jan. 1, 2018 photo, marijuana plants are for sale at Harborside marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after legalized marijuana. Sessions is rescinding a policy that had let legalized marijuana flourish wi

In this Jan. 1, 2018 photo, marijuana plants are for sale at Harborside marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif.

Mathew Sumner, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Rich Oborn, director of the Utah Department of Health’s Center for Medical Cannabis, expects “dozens of interested applicants” will submit proposals to operate the state’s first medical marijuana pharmacies.

The Utah Department of Health plans to issue 14 medical marijuana pharmacy licenses and is seeking proposals from those looking to operate them, according to a news release from the Utah Department of Health.


Region 1 (Expected to receive three licenses):
  • Box Elder County
  • Cache County
  • Rich County
  • Weber County (Urban)
  • Morgan County

Region 2 (Expected to receive five licenses):
  • Salt Lake County (Urban)
  • Tooele County
  • Davis County (Urban)
  • Summit County

Region 3 (Expected to receive four licenses):
  • Utah County (Urban)
  • Wasatch County
  • Daggett County
  • Duchesne County
  • Uintah County
  • Carbon County
  • Emery County
  • Grand County
  • San Juan County

Region 4 (Expected to receive two licenses):
  • Juab County
  • Millard County
  • Sevier County
  • Sanpete County
  • Piute County
  • Wayne County
  • Beaver County
  • Iron County
  • Washington County
  • Garfield County
  • Kane County

The first phase of pharmacies could open as early as March 1, according to the news release, when the program is scheduled to be up and running. The remaining six could open by July 1.

“This is another significant milestone for Utah’s medical cannabis program,” Oborn said in a statement. “We have been working closely with potential applicants over the past several months to develop the framework of this RFP (request for proposal).”

Potential applicants better hurry — the application deadline is Dec. 2. Approved applicants are expected to be announced in late December.

For each application submitted, applicants must pay a $2,500 fee. If approved, license holders are required to pay an annual fee ranging between $50,000-$69,500, contingent on the type of license and location of the pharmacy.

The licenses would be divided among four geographic regions to ensure accessibility to patients throughout the state.

Applications will be evaluated based on requirements under the Medical Cannabis Act and the request for proposals. Applicants are not permitted to operate more than two pharmacies.

Utah voters approved the medical marijuana ballot initiative, Proposition 2, in November 2018, legalizing doctor-approved marijuana treatment for certain health conditions. State lawmakers the next month replaced the measure with a law they say puts tighter controls on the production, distribution and use of the drug. In September, lawmakers approved changes to the state’s medical marijuana bill that would allow for 14 or more pharmacies.

Over the summer, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Utah Division of Purchasing selected eight applicants to grow medical marijuana in the state, including Dragonfly Greenhouse, Harvest of Utah, Oakbridge Greenhouses, Standard Wellness Utah, True North of Utah, Tryke Companies Utah, Zion Cultivars and Wholesome Ag.