Utah selected eight firms towards the end of last month to undergo background checks prior to being granted licenses to grow medical marijuana as the state moves to implement a voter decision during the 2018 midterms. However, six companies that weren’t successful during the application process protested to the state’s Division of Purchasing. The division has responded by dismissing those protests, thereby paving the way for the state to stay on course in its bid to implement the medical marijuana program.
The companies that protested to the Division of Purchasing are North Star Holdings, Pure UT, Wild West Holding, Tintic United Bioscience, JLPR, and Total Health Sciences. These companies were unhappy that Utah had only selected eight companies yet the law provides for a maximum of ten growers.
However, the Division of Purchasing argued that it took the decision to select only eight cultivators in order to avert the possibility of over-supply in the medical cannabis market. They added that the law allows the division to select any number of cultivators as long as the legal cap isn’t exceeded.
Chris Hughes, the director of Utah’s Division of Purchasing, announced on Wednesday that the companies whose appeals had been dismissed could escalate their protest to the Utah Procurement Policy Board and even go to court if they weren’t satisfied with the decisions made.
Meanwhile, several county attorneys are putting pressure on Utah to abandon its plans of having a state-run medical cannabis dispensary system. They say that the current design of the system will put the employees of the state at the risk of prosecution under the existing drug laws of the federal government.
Troy Rawlings (DA Davis County) and Sim Gill (DA Salt Lake County) insist that using the local dispensaries as points where medical marijuana can be picked up would, in effect, turn the county’s medical department workers into drug traffickers in the eyes of the federal government.
Under Utah’s medical marijuana law, seven private medical marijuana pharmacies will be licensed while a “central fill pharmacy” will be run by the state to supply the private pharmacies with the products they put on their shelves. This “fill pharmacy” function will be implemented through the 13 local health departments.
State officials acknowledge the concerns of the DAs and a meeting has been planned for later this month in order to discuss any alternatives that could sidestep the risks that the district attorneys point out.
Industry analysts believe that the whole industry, including players like Willow Biosciences Inc. (CSE: WLLW) and Wildflower Brands Inc. (CSE: SUN) (OTCQB: WLDFF), will be hoping that the program in Utah doesn’t run into any hurdles that take implementation beyond the planned 2020 launch date.
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