Utah Gearing Up for Medical Cannabis Pharmacy Applications

The Utah Cannabis Association will be hosting a meeting with the Department of Health on October 1, 2019 to discuss the licensing requirements for medical cannabis pharmacy as the regulator will release an RFP for applicants the week of October 7, 2019. The state will permit up to 14 licensed medical pharmacies to operate with eight (8) pharmacies opening by March 1, 2020, and the remaining six (6) pharmacies opening by July 1, 2020.

Utah’s Center for Medical Cannabis published a fact sheet for medical cannabis pharmacy applicants, which outlines the state’s scoring criteria. The department will be evaluating applicants based on experience, the operating plan, local connections, ability to keep costs low and the overall strategic plan. Applicants that are willing to provide home delivery and use the state-authorized payment processors will be given extra points.

Utah’s legislature changed the structure of the medical cannabis program drastically last week through the enactment of S.B. 1002. The bill will become law if it is signed by Governor Herbert. The amendments removed the state central fill medical cannabis pharmacy, which would have required medical cannabis pharmacies to deliver medical cannabis products to a state health department for pick-up by patients. The legislation also increased the number of authorized pharmacies from 7 to 14; approved home delivery by medical cannabis pharmacies; and authorized delivery licenses by July 1, 2020.

Under the existing medical cannabis program, each medical cannabis pharmacy must employ a state-licensed pharmacist and a state-licensed physician who are registered Pharmacy Medical Providers. Pharmacies must provide patients with a phone number to reach the Pharmacy Medical Provider with questions about dosing recommendations and other drug-related issues.

The state has been gearing up for the opening of medical cannabis pharmacies by issuing RFPs for cultivators and processors. Utah received 81 applications for medical cannabis cultivators. Utah awarded only eight (8) out of ten (10) available licenses in order to avoid the overproduction of cannabis in the state. Utah’s regulators stated that half of the following awardees currently have businesses in the state while the other half have ties to local communities.

  • Dragonfly Greenhouse

  • Harvest of Utah

  • Oakbridge Greenhouses

  • Standard Wellness Utah

  • True North of Utah

  • Tryke Companies Utah

  • Wholesome Ag.

  • Zion Cultivars

In order to meet the March deadline, Utah will need to quickly decide the awardees for medical cannabis pharmacy licenses. Applicants that have available real estate may have the upper hand in the evaluation process for Phase 1. The deadlines for creating Utah’s medical cannabis ecosystem are tight. However, Utah appears to be handling the challenge in an organized and disciplined manner.

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