Utah is Trying To Abolish Their State-Run Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

In a special legislative session as early as this September, Utah lawmakers are planning on introducing a new bill which will rid the state of control of Utah’s cannabis dispensaries. Instead, Utah will increase the number of private dispensaries from seven to twelve.  

Utah’s original plan was to control the distribution of cannabis through the state by directly distributing it to patients through health departments and a select few private dispensaries. This is similar to the way the state handles the purchase of alcohol, which requires that “packaged liquor, wine, and full-strength beer” must be purchased at a state-owned liquor store or a package agency. 

Unfortunately for Utah, the Attorney General of Davis County, Troy Rawlings, and Salt Lake County Attorney General Sim Gill told their local health departments not to dispense cannabis. Their justification was that the workers might face federal prosecution for the distribution of cannabis. Their counties weren’t the only ones in Utah who harbored this fear. This concern was echoed across Utah.

The bill being introduced is also going to address the issue of banking and cannabis in Utah. They’re hoping to allow vendors to accept electronic payments from private dispensaries. At the moment, most cannabis sales in the state are done through cash transactions only, which can be dangerous for both purchasers and vendors. 

Advocates for cannabis legalization in Utah are happy with the changes coming to the state. Christine Stenquist, a cannabis advocate, said in a statement, “We are happy to hear that the legislators are working towards better solutions for a healthier medical cannabis program. Managing a new industry is complicated.”

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