SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers are abandoning plans for a state-run medical cannabis dispensary network, FOX 13 has learned.
In a bill set to be introduced for a special session of the Utah State Legislature, the state will no longer control the sale of medical cannabis. Instead, the number of private dispensaries will be increased from seven to 12 and scattered across the state.
“We recognized there were some challenges there and some anxiety,” Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said in an interview Tuesday with FOX 13.
Utah intended to control the distribution of medical cannabis by handing it out to qualifying patients through county health departments, in addition to a handful of privately-run dispensaries. But the plan hit a snag when Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill each told FOX 13 they had advised their local health departments against dispensing marijuana, out of fear that county workers could find themselves facing federal prosecution for drug distribution.
Other counties had expressed similar unease with the system.
“It’s ironic, the day that you did that report on your channel with the Davis County Attorney, I got a draft piece of the legislation that eliminated the local health departments from that issue,” Sen. Vickers said.
In other states, private industry sells marijuana and runs the risk of prosecution.
Voters approved Proposition 2 last year, only to see it swapped out with a bill creating a state-controlled system. The bill was the product of negotiations between Prop. 2 supporters including the Utah Patients Coalition and Libertas Institute, and opponents including the Utah Medical Association and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Asked if the proposed legislation gets back to