After passing a medical marijuana law in December 2018, Utah has now engaged high gear in moving towards implementing the program. The state is currently looking for a software provider who will design a two-part system that will, in effect, run the entire medical cannabis program.
One part of the system will track each medical cannabis plant from the time it reaches eight inches tall to the point when it is bought by a patient registered to use medical marijuana in the state.
Tracking the plants is important because the state will be sure that legally grown weed isn’t being channeled to the black market.
The second part of the software will be used to enroll patients on the medical cannabis program, store information about the prescriptions issued by doctors and keep track of how much medical cannabis each patient is buying.
The state will have a big decision to make regarding whether one provider will be sufficient for the two components of the medical cannabis system or multiple providers should be sourced for the different aspects of the system.
State officials want to select the firms that will provide the software by May so that the second half of the year is devoted to selecting medical marijuana cultivators. The deadline for starting to receive applications from patients who want to use medical marijuana is March 1, 2020, but the officials want to start receiving applications earlier than that date, if possible.
However, eyebrows have been raised about the plan to allow law enforcement to access the system. Advocates are concerned that the police or any other law enforcement agency (state or federal) may abuse that access they are granted.
The state insists that law enforcement will only be allowed to confirm whether someone is authorized to possess medical cannabis or not. Other details, such as the qualifying condition for which a patient got approval to use medical cannabis, will be inaccessible to law enforcement.
The software program is expected to cost anywhere from $2 million to $5 million. This amount will cover the cost of building as well as running the system for its first five years of existence.
To put this cost into perspective, think about what Pennsylvania spent for a similar system. The state spent $10.4 million for building and operating its system for five years.
However, Nevada spent approximately $816,000 to acquire and operate a traceability system for its medical cannabis program for four years. Traceability covers just half of what Utah is seeking, but you can get a picture of how the costs compare.
Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) hope that the provider selected designs and implements a system that will not be plagued by the glitches that have disrupted medical cannabis programs in other states.
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