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UPDATE: Utah Scraps State Marijuana Distribution Plan

Posted by on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 in News, Updates.

As I noted last fall (see here), Utah was set to become the first state in the nation to directly participate in the distribution of marijuana. Under the State’s compromise medical marijuana law, the state planned to buy medical marijuana from licensed private cultivators and then distribute that marijuana to qualified patients through local health departments. (The state also planned to license 5 private companies to distribute medical marijuana, creating a hybrid system of state / private distribution.)

A state-run distribution system arguably has some advantages over a privately-operated distribution system. However, state distribution also raises some unique concerns about preemption and state liability. The promise and pitfalls of state distribution are discussed in the prior post linked above and in the book on pages 478; 501-504; and 698-703.

It appears the concerns may have won out in Utah. The Utah legislature just passed a law (SB 1002) that scraps the plan for state distribution. Under the new law, Utah will instead license 14 private firms to handle all distribution of medical marijuana in the state. (Under both the old and the new law, licensed private companies will continue to manufacture marijuana.) The new law can be found here. It includes a lot of provisions, and the changes to the state distribution system (called “central fill”) are scattered throughout the measure. The St. Lake City Tribune also has coverage of the amendments here.

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