Ever since Utah voters passed ballot initiative Proposition 2 in November 2018 that legalized medical marijuana treatments for certain health conditions including epilepsy, cancer and chronic pain, the state has been taking a slow, calculated approach to the bill’s rollout.
In January, state health officials announced that Utah’s medical marijuana program was to launch as scheduled, with their first dispensary locations to open during the first week of March.
On Sunday, the online application process for obtaining a medical marijuana card began, and on Monday, Utah’s first medical marijuana pharmacy opened its doors.
Dragonfly Wellness at 711 State St. in Salt Lake City is a dispensary with a vision “to change the way our community views our health and wellness.”
“Our mission is to empower patients to take back control… to think differently about the way we live our lives. This includes everything from how we grow our food, how we live our lifestyle, how we manage our health, and how we treat our medical conditions. We are dedicated to learning and understanding all of the incredible healing abilities of the hundreds of chemical compounds in the cannabis plant.”
Also, @UtahDepOfHealth has put together some handy info sheets on how to become a qualifying medical cannabis patient. This is the one for patients over 21: https://t.co/w74P0bmIF0 @fox13 #utpol pic.twitter.com/sf8wcAKqVF— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) March 3, 2020
According to Richard Oborn, director of Utah’s Center for Medical Cannabis, Dragonfly Wellness is part of a list of 14 medical cannabis dispensaries set to open this year. He also said that of the 300 Utahns who have applied, the Utah Department of Health has so far issued 14 medical cards.
“We feel like that was a good thing for the state of Utah that there was so much competition,” said Oborn. “We feel like we’ve got a good set of applicants that come to us with a lot of confidence in what they’re doing and a lot of knowledge and expertise.”
Dragonfly Wellness currently employs 16 individuals with hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. A community center attached to the dispensary will be used to host events, seminars and educational sessions for health professionals seeking to learn more about medicinal cannabis.
WATCH: Utah launches the first of its kind #medicalmarijuana pharmacy. Live press conferences: https://t.co/KIsz94w9RX pic.twitter.com/rpHrEwRnGZ— Morgan Saxton (@KUTVMorgan) March 2, 2020
“For far too long we’ve been told what we should do and what we shouldn’t do,” Narith Panh, Dragonfly’s chief strategy officer, said to reporters during a news conference. “And now, finally, we have that option to be able to take back control of our own health, to take back control of our lifestyle, to take back control of how we manage our medical conditions.”
As of now, the state of Utah is responsible for coordinating product testing until the program becomes economically viable enough to allow private labs to invest in testing equipment. Panh says that at Dragonfly, quality control and assurance are an utmost priority.
“We have to go and do testing for microbials. We have to do testing for solvents. We have to do testing for pesticides. And we have to do testing for heavy metals,” said Panh. “The products that you’re buying on the shelf are actually safer than any product you’re going to get in a grocery store.”
Seven more medical marijuana dispensaries are set to open by June and the last five of this initial wave are set to open in July. The state of Utah will formally call these locations cannabis “pharmacies,” rather than dispensaries.