Utah Medical Cannabis Program warns of pot franchise scam

Mar 1, 2023, 2:12 PM

medical cannabis scam flyer advertising marijuana dispensary franchise...

Mailers like this one appear to encourage Utahns to open their own marijuana dispensary. The state says it's a scam. (Photo provided by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food)

(Photo provided by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new scam making the rounds appears to target Utahns with a unique business proposition: opening your own cannabis dispensary franchise. 

The catch? Utah’s Medical Cannabis Program did not send the mailers, and only already-approved pharmacies can dispense medical, not recreational, marijuana in the state. 

Cannabis scam mailers arrive in Utah mailboxes

Dr. Brandon Forsyth heads up the medical cannabis division for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. He says the mailers look like the type of advertisement you might receive to entice you to purchase a fast-food franchise. However, as recreational cannabis shops remain illegal in Utah, the ads are a scam. 

“It’s claiming to be coming from the state, and that we’re giving out licenses for dispensaries and that’s not the case,” Forsyth said. “We have pharmacies only in the state – we don’t have recreational dispensaries. And we certainly aren’t giving out any more licenses for pharmacies, either.” 

What the cannabis scam intends to accomplish remains unclear, according to Forsyth. Thus far, it doesn’t appear to be a typical “steal your information” scam. Regardless, he advises against calling the number or visiting the website on the mailer. 

“We’ve had a couple of people individuals call the line and report what they heard. One actually was apparently an alcohol-free singles dating [site] when they called in, and another individual says that it was for an Illinois dispensary, not for Utah,” he said. 

Forsyth advises anyone who receives the cannabis scam mailer to throw it out. 

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Utah Medical Cannabis Program warns of pot franchise scam