SOUTH OGDEN — Standard medicine — what’s been considered standard medicine, anyway — doesn’t always cut it.
That’s why Corey Anden, a specialist in sports medicine and nonsurgical orthopedics, started offering consultations earlier this year to patients potentially interested in using medical cannabis to help them with their ailments.
“For a lot of people, the traditional medical options have not been beneficial,” said the South Ogden doctor, who practices out of the Northern Utah Rehabilitation Hospital. “What I’m doing is meeting with people and educating them about using cannabis medically.”
Following passage by Utah lawmakers of the Medical Cannabis Act, a measure formally legalizing medical marijuana, the cannabis industry is rolling out across the state and in Weber County. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has licensed eight companies to cultivate marijuana while state officials are reviewing applications for marijuana processing facilities and pharmacies that would sell medical cannabis products.
Here in Weber County, Anden has been expanding her practice to encompass medical cannabis while the Utah subsidiary of an Arizona-based cannabis company, Harvest Health & Recreation, is building a marijuana cultivation operation in Ogden. There’s talk of a cannabis pharmacy in Washington Terrace, focus of discussion last month by the Washington Terrace City Council, while Bill Morris, the Marriott-Slaterville city attorney, said cannabis firms have informally approached the city about operating there.
To the north in Box Elder County, three operations have received licenses from the state to cultivate marijuana, according to the ag department. They are Oakbridge, planning a facility in Garland; Standard Wellness, to operate in Corinne; and True North, to operate in Brigham City.
As legal cannabis makes its way into Utah, some Weber County cities have been tweaking their zoning ordinances to spell out where such operations may operate. The Ogden City Council took action in October, while officials in Marriott-Slaterville and Washington Terrace acted last month. Weber County officials are in the process of updating the pertinent county ordinances, and the issue comes up for discussion at next Tuesday’s meeting of the Western Weber Planning Commission.
Locales can’t implement outright prohibitions on medical cannabis operations, per state law, but they can identify areas where they are allowable. Whatever the case, Washington Terrace City Manager Tom Hanson, for one, doesn’t have any major concerns, in part owing to the strict state regulations they’ll face. In fact, he’s welcoming of the proposed cannabis pharmacy in the city.
“For where we’re looking at, we think it’s a fine fit,” Hanson said, noting the proximity of Ogden Regional Medical Center and other medical offices. McKay-Dee Hospital isn’t far away in south Ogden.
Aside from the Ogden and Box Elder County cannabis cultivators, state officials have approved cultivating licenses for Dragonfly Greenhouses in Monroe in Sevier County, Tryke in Tooele in Tooele County, Wholesome Ag in North Salt Lake in Davis County and Zion Cultivars in Benjamin in Utah County.
The licenses for processors have yet to be issued, according to Jack Wilbur, an ag department spokesman. Likewise, the Utah Department of Health, still reviewing the applications for cannabis pharmacies, won’t likely name the licensees until late this month or early in January, said Tom Hudachko, a department spokesman.
State law preliminarily allows for 14 pharmacies scattered across Utah, including three in the Northern Utah region, which covers Weber, Box Elder, Cache, Morgan and Rich counties.
OGDEN FACILITY IN THE WORKS
Anden has researched medical cannabis and sees it as another way to help with a wide range of conditions. She lauds removal of medicinal use from the shroud of illegal activity. “People are already using cannabis and it’s benefitting them, and making it legal is keeping them out of trouble,” she said.
She’s consulted patients from as far away as St. George and senses strong demand. While there are no dispensaries in Utah yet — that could come by as early as next March — she says on her website that she can write recommendations for medicinal cannabis, allowing patients to get it in other states where it’s legal.
Wilbur said he can’t divulge specific addresses of the marijuana cultivation operations due to safety and security concerns. However, Alex Howe, a spokesman for Harvest of Utah, the subsidiary of Tempe, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation that’s planning a facility in Ogden, offered a few details about plans here.
Construction on the Ogden facility “is well underway” and should be fully operational in the first quarter of 2020, he said. He said Harvest of Utah will also seek a license to process the cannabis, with all products destined solely for the Utah market, per state law.
Carter Musgrave proposed the Washington Terrace pharmacy and he discussed his plans and the benefits of medical cannabis in general with the Washington Terrace City Council at a Nov. 19 meeting. Per state law, he said access to the pharmacy would be restricted only to those with documentation allowing them to use medical cannabis, according to minutes of the meeting.
“Dr. Musgrave stated that his one big focus will be on security. He stated that it is highly regulated,” read the minutes.
Though state law allows cannabis pharmacies, once named, to open as early as March 1, they’ll be reliant on product made in Utah. And while the growers have been licensed, the licensees for processors of cannabis have yet to be named.