State of the State – firebird-cbdoil
As I wrote in a previous blog post, Utah's cannabis market has special features that you will hardly find in other states. This is largely thanks to Utah's hardworking, largely conservative and compassionate culture. Combine these properties and the parameters and developments in the medical cannabis and hemp marketplaces in Utah make perfect sense. Overall, 2019 was a banner year for Utah's cannabis marketplaces as it ran until 2020. Here is an overview of 2019 and the future up to 2020.
Utah's medical cannabis market is slated to open this year. Qualified patients will receive a health card by March 1, 2020, or possibly earlier. After voters approved the initiative in November 2018 and changed it in December 2018, Utah's shared advocates of medical marijuana ended with a medical program that was both patient-centered and internally viewed as socially responsible.
Utah voters, with the help of their lawmakers, fully approved a non-smokable medical cannabis market with significant government oversight and participation, rather than a adult and recreational market. The discussion focused on questions such as the following: (a) What are the most efficient delivery systems for medical cannabis? and (b) Which of these delivery systems is most likely to provide health benefits to consumers without causing negative externalities? (For example, marijuana smoke can be harmful to those close to the consumer, but eating chocolates, capsules, or gummy bears or rubbing oil on your body is less likely to affect the comfort and health of others.)
On September 16, 2019, the Utah Senate passed SB1002, amending the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. These changes included: a) The number of medical cannabis pharmacy licenses available increased from seven to 14. (b) the division of the state into at least four geographic regions for licensing purposes; (c) a mandate that the Utah Department of Health (“UDOH”) issue pharmacy licenses by July 1, 2020; (d) Patients can place orders for medical cannabis online through the state's central patient portal. (e) UDOH may authorize home delivery through medical cannabis pharmacies that medical cannabis couriers can use for delivery; (f) Patients can purchase a monthly supply of medical cannabis regardless of how far they are from a medical cannabis pharmacy. and (g) growers can grow cannabis indoors and outdoors.
Licensing of cultivators in Utah is currently complete. Only eight cultivators have received licenses for 81 applications, despite the fact that the law has approved 10 licenses. Seven of the growing areas are in rural areas and one is in urban areas. The licensees include companies from Utah as well as from third countries with connections to Utah. Processor licensing was opened on August 23, 2019 and is open until August 2024. There is an unlimited number of licenses available in two tiers. The application to become an independent cannabis testing laboratory remains open: the criteria can be found here. On January 3, 2020, the Utah Department of Health announced the companies that would receive the 14 medical cannabis pharmacy licenses. Eight of the locations may already be open in March, the rest in July. You can find the pharmacy card here.
The 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (Farm Bill of 2018) legalized industrial hemp, and Utah responded on May 14, 2019 by changing its hemp and cannabinoid law. The changes affected cannabinoid products and not just cannabidiol ("CBD"). ) and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food are required to establish requirements for a license to grow, process, or place industrial hemp on the market. Utah is currently drafting a state hemp plan to be submitted to the USDA under the 2018 Farm Bill. Utah currently has approximately 175 licensed hemp growers, approximately 30 licensed hemp processors, and over 700 registered hemp products.
But you can't smoke it
Utah has some unique twists and turns in its cannabis market. Smoking cannabis and hemp is not allowed, even if a doctor has given permission to use cannabis. Why? As I wrote in two previous blog posts (see here and here), two of the world's leading essential oil companies are headquartered in Utah: Young Living Essential Oils and doTERRA. Popular uses of essential oils include ingestion of food and drink, topical use, and diffusion into the air using a diffuser. And because Utah is also the epicenter of natural products, especially nutritional supplements, the use of tablets and capsules to take hemp products (such as CBD from hemp) tops the list of definitions of approved “medical dosage forms”.
What is it about?
In 2019, Young Living Essential Oils acquired Colorado’s Nature’s Ultra. Nature’s Ultra’s ads are now on the digital billboards at I-15 and I-215 in Salt Lake County. Recently, a self-proclaimed company called itself a "Farmer & Chemist" began advertising on Corridor I-15. On December 30, 2019, Nevada's West Wendover opened its first marijuana recreational pharmacy just under two hours west of Salt Lake City. Looking ahead, UtahCann, the main hemp trading group in Utah, is preparing for the third annual business conference and expo on April 25th and 26th.
The cannabis marketplace in Utah will continue to evolve with unique features from Utah. We will keep you up to date as the markets mature. I expect Utah to expand its unique international business relationships shortly, particularly due to its huge multi-level marketing companies (direct sales companies).