Utah lawmakers are likely scrapping the plan to dispense medical cannabis through health departments, opting instead for at least a dozen privately-operated dispensaries, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The legislature is poised to hold a special session next month to address the program changes, including adding home delivery.
The decision to take local health departments out of the cannabis-dispensing equation comes after law enforcement officials warned that the plant would make those employees drug dealers in the eyes of federal authorities and some warned that the feds could cut funding. However, earlier this month U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources Jennifer Moughalian clarified that the state’s plan would “not affect the State’s eligibility to apply for HHS grants nor … affect the outcome of the State’s application.”
“Medical marijuana is not an allowable cost under HHS grants awards; the post-award program evaluations and audits will examine the allowability of all costs,” Moughalian, said in the July 19 letter to Gov. Gary Herbert (R).
During a recent news conference, Herbert was confident that medical cannabis sales would begin in the state on Apr. 1 as outlined in the legislative-approved replacement bill for the measure approved by voters last year.
Under the proposed changes, patients would be able to order medical cannabis through a website created by the Utah Department of Health which would be delivered by a licensed courier. That site would allow electronic payment – which is not possible under the ‘central fill’ model.
The proposal would also allow cultivators to use both indoor and outdoor methods and would strengthen protections for registered patients, giving them the same protections as patients who use opioids.