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Utah Chooses Recipients for Retail Medical Cannabis Licenses 

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Utah has finally chosen recipients for the state’s 14 medical cannabis pharmacy licenses. 

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) announced on Jan. 3 that 10 companies that are expected to receive the state’s 14 licenses. There were 60 hopeful companies that submitted more than 130 applications for licenses. The competitive licensing process disappointed many hopeful applicants, but that is simply the nature of cannabis licensing across the nation. 

“The evaluation committee spent hundreds of hours evaluating applications from companies seeking a limited number of licenses. It was a highly competitive process and some qualified applicants will be left disappointed, but that is the nature of a highly competitive process,” said Richard Oborn, Director of the Center for Medical Cannabis at the UDOH. “The Utah Department of Health is committed to ensuring patients have safe and reliable access to medical cannabis and we are confident the companies selected are best prepared to meet the needs of Utah patients and provide the best value to Utah communities.”

Licensees will be required to pay an annual fee in the amount of $50,000 to $69,500. The fee will be calculated depending upon the license type and location of the pharmacy. Some of the companies that have been chosen to receive licenses don’t yet own the locations for which they’ve proposed businesses. There are operating plans that still need to obtain department approval, and owners still need to pass background checks before licenses can be granted. 

Licensees were chosen across four geographic regions. Officials approved proposed locations in Cedar City, Logan, Park City, Provo, Ogden, Salt Lake City, Springville, St. George, Vernal and West Bountiful. Eight of the locations may open as soon as March of this year, while six others may open beginning in July. 

Although medical cannabis was legalized back in 2018, patients have been without access for two major reasons. This latest announcement gives a clear timeline on when and where patients in Utah can start purchasing legal and safe cannabis medicine, but patients may still be having a hard time finding a doctor who is willing to prescribe them medical cannabis. This is largely due to skepticism about the medical value of cannabis. 

As Utah’s medical cannabis program moves forward, there is hope that more doctors in the state will start to understand the legitimacy of the plant. The licensees are as follows:

  • Beehive’s Own (two licenses), Salt Lake City and location TBD  in Box Elder, Morgan, or Rich Counties
  • Bloom Medicinals, Cedar City
  • Columbia Care, Springville
  • Curaleaf, Lindon
  • Deseret Wellness (two licenses), Park City and Provo
  • Dragonfly Wellness, Salt Lake City
  • Justice Grown Utah (two licenses), Salt Lake City
  • Pure UT, Vernal
  • True North of Utah (two licenses), Logan and Ogden
  • Wholesome Therapy, West Bountiful

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Europe Cannabis Testing Market Expected to Reach $770 Million By 2027

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The European cannabis testing market is expected to grow to a little over $770 million USD from $431.58 million in 2019. The market is expected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.7 percent from 2020 to 2027.

A new report, “Europe Cannabis Testing Market to 2025 – Regional Analysis and Forecasts by Type ; Services ; End User and Country,” outlined the growth of the industry to 2025. The growth of the market can be attributed to the European government funding cannabis research for doctors as well as the increasing demand for researching cannabis quality. The report mentions non-medical uses of cannabis and problems with CBD oil products are likely to have a negative impact on the growing market.

The European cannabis testing market is split into three segments: testing laboratories, drug manufacturers and research institutes. In 2019, the testing laboratories held the largest share of the market and is expected to continue growing due to testing performed in the reference labs for various diseases.

In February 2019, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) passed a joint resolution supporting medical cannabis. The resolution allows doctors to use their best judgment in prescribing cannabis-based medicines, and calls on MEPs to address barriers that prevent cannabis research. The aim is to clearly distinguish between what is considered medical-use cannabis and what is considered non-medical.

Currently, there are no countries in the European Union that allow smoking cannabis or home-growing for medical purposes. The World Health Organization has previously recommended that CBD should not be classified as a controlled substance. The European Union has already approved a CBD-based medicine that helps treat severe seizures.

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Retired Jamaican Sprinter Opens Medical Cannabis Dispensary

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Former Olympic sprinter Michael Frater has opened his own medical cannabis dispensary. Frater said a personal injury led him to opening 4/20 Sports Therapeutic Bliss in Kingston, Jamaica.

Frater represented Jamaica for over a decade and was a part of the 2012 London Olympics team that set the world record in the 4 x 100 meter relay. However, knee problems over the past five years have caused him to retire. Frater said he tried cannabis oil to treat his bad knee and felt the difference within a month.

“I started studying a lot about it and realized that a drug that has been taboo for most of my life is really a miracle drug. It’s really a drug that once taken properly with the proper prescription, the medicinal purposes are exponential,” Frater said.

A previous study found a link between cannabis athletes using cannabis as a means of recovery or treat pain. The study found a combination of THC and CBD was the most beneficial in providing well-being and calming factors in athletes, as opposed to just CBD on its own.

Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, Olivia Grange, attended the opening ceremony and helped cut the ribbon. Also in attendance were Jamaica Olympic Association President Christopher Samuda and former teammate Asafa Powell. Grange also urged other Jamaican athletes to get involved with business in Jamaica.

“What is important about what you are doing is that you are not just an athlete who at the end of your active career, sit down, fold your arms and wait for something to happen, you have set an excellent example for others to follow,” Grange said. “I always knew that you were special. There was a group of you during your era of active running that I considered special athletes.”

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Nebraska Senator Introduces Medical Cannabis Bill

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The Nebraska Senate recently introduced a new bill that would legalize medical cannabis in the state.

Introduced by Senator Anna Wishart on January 15, the bill (LB474) would pick up where a previous November 2020 ballot initiative failed. Wishart herself worked on an attempt to collect signatures for ballot consideration. They collected 190,000 signatures and only needed 120,00 but the initiative was still rejected by the Supreme Court for a technicality. The court claimed it violates single-subject rules.

“The ballot initiative was not about medical marijuana, because it was not going to be prescribed by a doctor. It was not going to be distributed through a pharmacy,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts when the bill failed. “It wasn’t a real medical thing.”

Wishart hopes that her newest bill will help residents gain access to cannabis. “[Friday] I introduced another bill, LB474, to legalize medical cannabis,” said Wishart. “I do this to honor the Nebraskans I have met along this long and winding journey. They deserve representatives who will show up and go the distance for positive change that improves the lives of families in our state no matter how many challenges are met along the way.”

Parents such as Crista Eggers are frustrated that the ballot measure was not considered back in November, as she was hoping for medicine to treat Colton, her six-year-old son. Colton has intractable epilepsy and so far hasn’t found any medicine that helps treat his condition. Under the current law, he can’t try cannabis-based medicine. “So many people were counting on that, people that didn’t have time to wait,” Eggers said.

She also expresses that, as excited as she is, she is also wary of getting too excited. “It’s exciting and we’re hopeful,” she continued. “I think more hopeful than we’ve ever been, but it also comes with that feeling of, ‘Why are we here again?’ We should be doing, as a state, everything we can to help those who are in need. This fight isn’t just for Colton. Our first has become for all those individuals who so desperately need an option.”

“On the journey to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska, I have met so many brave people that inspire me,” said Wishart about her strong desire to legalize. “Veterans who have lost limbs in war serving our country, cancer survivors who have beaten all odds, people with debilitating pain who refuse to give up, and kids like Colton who suffer from seizures at such a young age and still show up to their life with a smile. All of these Nebraskans deserve the right to access a plant-based medicine that has evolved with humans for over 10,000+ years. None of them should be treated like criminals in our state.”

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