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Utah Takes First Steps Into Medical Cannabis Marketplace: 'They Saw The Will Of Their Citizens'

Spending in Utah's new medical marijuana market could reach $84 million by 2024.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga

March 1, 2020, marked the launch of Utah's medical cannabis program and its marketplace.

via Benzinga

Spending in the new market could reach $84 million by 2024, according to data from BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research. 

RELATED: Seeking Investment? Cannabis Entrepreneurs Need To Answer These Five Questions

The state health department began accepting applications March 1, and the state's first dispensary — referred to as a pharmacy in Utah — opened the following day. 

Key Cannabis Regulations In Utah

The state's list of qualifying conditions covers a range of conditions, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses. The list also covers people with autism, people living in hospice care and those with a rare condition or disease affecting less than 200,000 people in the United States.

License holders are approved for various dosage forms and consumption methods. They include unprocessed cannabis flower, pills, waxes, resin, concentrated oils, topicals, transdermals and vaporizer pens.

Smoking marijuana is prohibited, as are dabbing products and edibles.

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While certain products are prohibited, the state does offer options that Terrascend Corp TRSSF 2.06% General Counsel Brian Feldman said meet the demands of citizens.

"We feel that the politicians reacted quickly once they saw the will of their citizens and are doing everything possible to provide patients with needed medical products and assistance," Feldman told Benzinga. 

"Their focus on getting products into the hands of those that need them and will benefit from them — with geographic diversity — is impressive," he said, singling out St. George Mayor Jon Pike for praise. Terrascend has obtained a medical cannabis processor license in the city, according to the St. George News. 

Adam Goers, vice president of corporate affairs for multistate operator Columbia Care Inc CCHWF 1.91%, told Benzinga he commends Utah for its handling of cannabis market development and its pharmacist-led industry.

Lawmakers took a "smart approach to making sure that the program works," the exec said. 

Amendments were made to the law just before the market launch that made positive improvements, Goers said, that touched on packaging, security and transit, while allowing cultivators and processors to use CBD in their products. 

Cannabis Applications, Purchases In Utah 

Those seeking to qualify for a cannabis card in Utah must work with a qualified medical provider, or QMP.

QMPS can be a medical doctor, osteopathic physician, advanced practice registered nurse or physician assistant under state law. 

RELATED: Cannabis Businesses Fight State Efforts To Limit THC Content

If approved, an applicant receives one of four types of cards:

  • Medical cannabis patient card: for those 18 and older, with patients ages 18-20 receiving approval from the state Compassionate Use Board. This card comes with a $15 application fee and is valid for 30 days upon the initial approval. Cards are then valid for six months at a time pending approval. 
  • Guardian card: For approved parents and guardians of minors recommended for the program. The card follows the same rules as a medical cannabis patient card, with additional fees applied at the six-month checkup points.
  • Provisional patient card: For those aged 18 and under who pass a criminal background check. Approval must come via the Compassionate Use Board, and the card renews automatically with a valid guardian card. No application fee is required.
  • Caregiver card: Valid for those caregivers who pass a criminal background check. Cards automatically renew with the medical cannabis patient or guardian card it is associated with. Additional fees apply at renewal.

Cardholders can buy up to a 30-day supply designated by the patient's QMP. Alternatively, over 28 days, license holders can purchase and possess up to 113 grams of flower or products with 20 grams of total composite THC.

See Also: Utah Legislature Passes Compromise Medical Marijuana Bill

Dispensaries Located Statewide 

With Dragonfly Wellness opening in Salt Lake City, the state saw its first of several approved pharmacies to serve Utah citizens.

Four zones segment the state, with the capital, Salt Lake City, in Region 2.

The city has three licenses altogether, along with one in West Bountiful and Park City to round out the region. The third region, comprising of the eastern and some central counties of Utah, also has five licensed pharmacies slated to open.

Regions one and four have two licenses each. However, Region 1 will receive a third pharmacy when a location is determined for a permit granted to Beehive's Own, which has another site in Salt Lake City.

Columbia Care plans to open a location in Springville at a date to be determined, the company's Goers told Benzinga. 

RELATED: The Marijuana Industry Already Employs A Quarter Million Workers

In the meantime, Columbia Care is in the final stages of obtaining a processor license to make its range of medicinal products, he said. 

While not sharing any company expectations, Goers told Benzinga that he expects Utah to be a strong market.

“The state has done the things that are necessary to make sure that companies are willing to invest,” he said. 

“I think it’s going to be a win-win because I think that it’s not just going to be a real good situation for companies, but it's going to set up a market structure ... that the benefit is going to go to patients.”