Utah looking for expert to help select its 15th medical cannabis pharmacy license

Utah is adding another medical cannabis pharmacy.

Deciding which company will get the license is now underway, but the state is looking for help in making that decision.

The Utah Department of Health wants to hire an expert that can help select which company will get Utah’s 15th medical cannabis pharmacy license.

“I feel like there’s certain things we could learn from their experience,” said Rich Oborn, the state’s director of the Center for Medical Cannabis.

Exactly where the pharmacy will go is not yet known, but a law passed in the 2021 legislative session mandates it must go somewhere in rural Utah.

I think we’ve yet to see the entire market in Utah,” Oborn said.

Eight pharmacies have already opened in urban areas and six more, already issued a license, must open by June 1 and are expected to open in more heavily populated areas.

When asked if rural Utah is being underserved, Oborn said, “I think that is yet to be known. We’re still looking at the market.”

There are currently 26,000 medical cannabis card-holders with roughly 2,000 more being added each month. But Utah doesn’t open up pharmacies based on the number of card-holders in a certain area.

“Whatever the condition may be, there’s a number of people that suffers from those conditions and they may not be getting the treatment they want,” Oborn said.

Medical cannabis expert Justin Arriola says access to qualified providers issuing cannabis cards in rural parts of the state has been hard. To help with that, a recent law was passed allowing doctors to issue 15 cards without doing continuing education.

Rural doctors seem a little reluctant to embrace cannabis,” Arriola said.

It takes time to reach all corners of the state.

“I think a lot of that comes from putting the right people in the regulatory positions, too, so really bringing in the right people to look at some of these solutions,” Arriola said.

Oborn said he hopes to have the license issued by the middle of the year.

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