Influx of applicants expected as Utah launches medical cannabis dispensary licensing round

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

“Dozens of interested applicants” are hoping that they will become one of the first medical cannabis dispensary owners in Utah to begin ushering in customers next year. This is according to the director of the Utah Department of Health’s Center for Medical Cannabis, Rich Oborn. 

Utah’s medical cannabis program is set to launch as early as March 2020. Oborn anticipates that a generous amount of people will apply to become the state’s first dispensary operator. 

Just 14 medical cannabis dispensary licenses in Utah up for grabs

Hopeful applicants ought to get a move on, since the application deadline to bag just one of 14 licenses being issued by the DOH is December 2. The names of successful applicants will be revealed at the end of December.

Three applicants residing in Region 1 are expected to be offered licenses. Region 1 consists of the following areas:

  • Box Elder County
  • Cache County
  • Rich County
  • Morgan County
  • Weber County (Urban)

Five applicants residing in Region 2 are expected to be offered licenses. Region 2 consists of the following areas:

  • Davis County (Urban)
  • Salt Lake County (Urban)
  • Summit County
  • Tooele County

Four applicants residing in Region 3 are expected to be offered licenses. Region 3 consists of the following areas:

  • Carbon County
  • Daggett County
  • Duchesne County
  • Emery County
  • Grand County
  • San Juan County
  • Utah County (Urban)
  • Uintah County
  • Wasatch County

Two applicants residing in Region 4 are expected to be offered licenses. Region 4 consists of the following areas:

  • Beaver County 
  • Garfield County
  • Iron County
  • Juab County
  • Kane County
  • Millard County
  • Piute County
  • Sevier County
  • Sanpete County
  • Wayne County
  • Washington County

A maximum of two pharmacies can be operated by each license holder. Licenses will be distributed among the four geographic locations to broaden patient access to cannabis.

Accepted applicants must pay annual fee for medical cannabis dispensary licenses in Utah 

The first phase of medical cannabis dispensaries in Utah are anticipated to open their doors as soon as March 1. At this time, the program will be in full motion. A further six pharmacies will likely 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).”

Applicants will be required to pay a one time fee of $2,500, as well as an additional $50,000-$69,500 per year if their application is accepted. The cost of the annual license fee depends on the type of license being obtained and the pharmacy location.

In order to be considered for a medical cannabis dispensary license in Utah, applicants must meet the requirements listed in the the Medical Cannabis Act

Medical cannabis in Utah: Proposition 2 was approved in November 2018 

Proposition 2 was approved by Utah voters in November 2018. The bill legalized medical cannabis for patients who receive doctor approval for one of the qualifying conditions. 

Examples of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Utah include Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Alzheimer’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Autism, Cachexia, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Debilitating Seizures, Epilepsy, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Multiple Sclerosis and Ulcerative Colitis.

During the summer, eight cannabis cultivation applicants were chosen by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Utah Division of Purchasing to grow the plant for medical purposes; Dragonfly Greenhouse, Harvest of Utah, Oakbridge Greenhouses, Standard Wellness Utah, True North of Utah, Tryke Companies Utah, Zion Cultivars and Wholesome Ag.