The Utah Department of Health is accepting medical cannabis pharmacy license applications from those interested in operating the state’s first medical cannabis retail outlets.
Rich Oborn, director of the Utah Department of Health’s Center for Medical Cannabis, expects “dozens of interested applicants” to submit proposals to win one of the 14 licenses ahead of the Dec. 2 application deadline, according to a KSL.com report.
The first phase of pharmacies could open as early as March 1, the news outlet reported, when the state’s medical cannabis program is scheduled to become operational.
“This is another significant milestone for Utah’s medical cannabis program,” Oborn said in a public statement. “We have been working closely with potential applicants over the past several months to develop the framework of this RFP.”
Each applicant must pay a $2,500 application fee, KSL.com reported, and if approved, licensees must pay an annual fee between $50,000 and $60,000, depending on the license type and the pharmacy’s location. Licenses will be divided among four geographic regions to ensure adequate patient access throughout the state, according to the news outlet, and applicants can operate a maximum of two pharmacies each.
The licenses are expected to be awarded in late December, KSL.com reported.
Utah voters approved Proposition 2 to legalize medical cannabis in the November 2018 election, and last month, Gov. Gary Herbert signed the final version of the state’s revised medical cannabis law, which lawmakers approved Sept. 16 during a special session of the legislature. Amendments to the law eliminated Utah’s original plan for state-run dispensaries and allowed the licensing of private businesses for cannabis sales.
The state awarded eight cultivation licenses in July, although the process has raised concerns among industry stakeholders. Some have argued that the state’s decision to license a smaller number of cultivators (Utah could have awarded up to 10 cultivation licenses by law) could create a cannabis shortage for patients, while others claim the state granted licenses to unqualified growers and had inappropriate interactions with some of the applicants.