One of Utah County’s three future medical marijuana pharmacies is ready to potentially open its door this year in Springville.
“There are patients in Utah that have been awaiting this potentially life-changing treatment option,” said Adam Goers, the vice president of corporate affairs for Columbia Care.
Columbia Care, which is based out of New York, will be one of 14 medical marijuana pharmacy locations that will open throughout the state, the Utah Department of Health announced Friday.
The department received more than 130 applications from more than 60 different companies who applied to become medical marijuana pharmacies.
Columbia Care plans to open in Springville at a small shopping center at 484 S. 1750 West. Deseret Wellness plans to open at 222 North Draper Lane in Provo, and Curaleaf will open a location to 1172 W. 700 North in Lindon, according to the announcement.
Eight locations may open in March with six potentially opening in July across the state. The operating plans are pending state approval and owners must pass criminal background checks.
The Utah Department of Health has not announced when the specific locations may open.
The pharmacies will pay an annual fee between $50,000 and $69,500, depending on their physical location and the type of license they receive.
Applications were scored by a committee that looked at factors such as a company’s experience in the medical marijuana industry, previous disciplinary actions, operating plans, how much they could reduce the cost of medical marijuana, connections to local communities and strategic plans.
“The evaluation committee spent hundreds of hours evaluating applications from companies seeking a limited number of licenses,” Richard Oborn, the director of the Center for Medical Cannabis at the Utah Department of Health said in a press release. “It was a highly competitive process and some qualified applicants will be left disappointed, but that is the nature of a highly competitive process.”
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act states that the Utah Department of Health can issue medical marijuana cards to patients, register medical providers who want to recommend the treatment and can license pharmacies.
Multiple conditions can qualify someone for the use of medical marijuana under the law, including HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, epilepsy and terminal illnesses when the patient’s life expectancy is less than six months.
Columbia Care has locations in 15 other states. Goers said the company is excited to expand to Utah because they like the state’s medical marijuana program.
“Not all regulators and policymakers have given as much thought to the program as they did in Utah,” Goers said.
He said the company is still working with regulators to finalize an opening date and location. In the meantime, he said the company has started working with physicians, community leaders and law enforcement.
The medical marijuana pharmacies have to apply for a business license within the cities they’re located in, according to John Penrod, the city attorney for Springville.
“They still need to go through the same requirements that any other business would go through if they were to go to our city,” he said.
Penrod said regulations — such as a rule that the facilities can’t be located within a residential zone and have to be 200 feet away from a community location like a school — are controlled by the state.
Representatives for Lindon, Provo and Deseret Wellness could not be reached for comment as of Tuesday evening.
Curaleaf would not provide comment at this time, according to a representative.