Independent growers may supply UT with medical marijuana


(KUTV)- A new law passed last session allows terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana, but lawmakers didn’t explicitly design how the product will be grown. Now, the Department of Agriculture and Food is trying to figure that out.

The department held a public comment sessions about the three new cannabis laws on Thursday. The three laws involve regulations on CBD oils, the production of hemp, and medical marijuana.

CBD oils are legal to buy, sell, and have so long as the manufacturers are licensed in Utah. Licensing insures the product is genuine and contains less than .3% THC, the psychoactive property in marijuana.

Under Utah law, a terminally ill patient with less than six months to live may have access to medical marijuana dispensed at a state-run store.

“The law allows the Utah Dept. of Agriculture & Food to grow the medical cannabis or contract with a qualified third party. And we are most likely going to do that. You know, we’re a state agency. We’re not really set up to be a farm!” Jack Wilbur, spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Food said.

Steve Bates, who founded GroEco and a separate company, Gen 4, said he’d like to be considered for the contract.

“A lot of the new technologies we developed here, we’ll be using on the medical hemp side,” Bates said.

GroEco designs and builds sustainable greenhouses to provide food for people around the world. Gen 4 is the company that grows and harvests food.

“The beauty of our building is that it’s completely secure. Completely off grid,” GroEco CEO, Aubrey Robison, said.

In states where marijuana is legal, Gen 4 also grows cannabis for medical use.

“Growing indoors, it eliminates a lot of the problems they have growing in dirt because we grow in water,” Bates said. “Giving the medical field a very good, clean, pure product is very important the medical field and it’s important to us.”

The GroEco buildings allow Gen 4 to closely and securely monitor their crops in a completely controlled environment.

Bates said it would be an easy transition for them to grow medical marijuana for the State of Utah.

“It was a natural transition to work in the medical field, with hemp.”

Wilbur expected to start looking for a contractor within a year.

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