First Dispensary Opens in Utah After Delays to Statewide Medical Program

First Dispensary Opens in Utah



On Monday, March 2nd, Utah’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors in Salt Lake City. The dispensary, aka pharmacy, is the first—and only—to open by the state’s target date of March 1, 2020. 

The opening of the dispensary, Dragonfly Wellness, is long-awaited. It comes more than a year after the passage of the state’s medical cannabis act in late 2018.


Utah’s Medical Cannabis Act

Voters approved Proposition 2—the ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis in Utah—in November 2018. However, state legislatures overrode it. 

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, legislators held a special session in order, “to replace the initiative with a different cannabis proposal—one brokered between initiative opponents such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and supporters such as the Utah Patients Coalition.”

They’ve since re-designed the bill, and made some 40 adjustments to it—right up until the last week of February, just before the state officially launched its medical program. 

Some of the bill’s “tweaks,” reports Fox 13, “removes blister packaging requirements for marijuana flower, raises patient caps for doctors and allows qualifying patients to seek expungement of criminal records for past marijuana convictions.”

Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill into law on Feb. 27, putting the bill and its amendments into effect immediately. 


Who Can Use Cannabis in Utah

The policy allows patients with certain, state-qualified conditions access to legal medicine. 

According to Utah medical cannabis laws, qualifying conditions include: autism, HIV, cancer, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, PTSD, and more.  

Patients must get a recommendation from state registered medical providers to get a card. So far, more than 80 providers, including nurses, doctors and physician assistants, have registered to recommend their patients cannabis.

There are no protection in the law for renters; but, there are some for employees. Per the bill, employers are, “to treat medical cannabis use in the same fashion as opioids or opiates, meaning that disciplinary action and/or termination may occur due to impairment or poor job performance.”

However, with only one state licensed pharmacy up and running so far—Utah’s industry is off slow to a slow start.

In the meantime, patients don’t need to register to access CBD products, as it’s legal in Utah and throughout the U.S.

For more information on Utah’s medical program, visit the Utah Department of Health’s FAQ.


Emerald contributor since February 2016
Melissa Hutsell, M.A., is a California-based journalist who reports on the failure of the War on Drugs. She holds a Master's degree in Global Journalism, and specializes in reporting on equity, sustainability, research, global market trends, health and wellness, and more.


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