ALL NEWS

6 companies challenge Utah’s medical marijuana growing picks

Jul 30, 2019, 5:42 AM
medical marijuana pot utah...
FILE- In this Jan. 28, 2019, file photo, marijuana buds are shown, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s decision to award a smaller number of medical marijuana grower licenses than allowed by law is being challenged by six companies that say the state granted licenses to unqualified cultivators and had inappropriate interactions with applicants, among other claims.

Chris Hughes, director of the state’s Division of Purchasing, confirmed that six rejected applicants met Friday’s appeal deadline.

The administrative appeal could further delay the rollout of medical marijuana for the state because state law says licenses cannot be finalized until protests are resolved.

Utah’s Department of Agriculture and Food selected eight companies to grow medical marijuana for its program set to open next year. Although the new law allows Utah to award up to 10 licenses at the start of the program, state officials say they chose to only hand out eight to avoid an oversupply of cannabis.

Marijuana advocates and experts say there is little to no evidence that oversupply of legal marijuana has been an issue. Oregon experienced oversupply problems due to a lush growing climate and a licensing process that permitted a large number of growers.

There were 81 applicants for the licenses.

In an appeals letter dated July 26, Utah-based research firm Tintic United Bioscience LLC says the Department of Agriculture violated a “blackout period” where state health officials were not to interact with applicants.

According to guidelines on the application portal, applicants are restricted from discussing their submissions with individuals involved in the selection process.

The letter includes a photo tweeted by the Department of Agriculture and Food on June 21 that shows commissioner Kerry Gibson smiling next to Mike Standlee, the registered business agent of True North of Utah LLC, one of the companies awarded a medical marijuana grower’s license.

Gibson was touring the Utah and Idaho facilities of Standlee’s company, Standlee Hay Company, the tweet notes .

Applications to grow Utah’s medical marijuana opened on May 31.

“It’s suspicious and suggests favoritism,” Tintic CEO Michael “Caddy” Cadwell said.

Bill Stevens, Standlee’s business partner at True North of Utah LLC, also attended the tour. He said they did not discuss the company’s license application during the visit.

“It had nothing to do with the marijuana program, my understanding was commissioner Gibson wanted to tour the facilities from an agricultural standpoint,” he said. “It was my first time visiting the Utah facilities, too.”

Jack Wilbur, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Food, said state officials were not banned from speaking with companies about other agriculture issues not related to their medical marijuana application.

In a different appeals letter dated July 21, Colorado-based marijuana company North Star Holdings LLC said some license winners have no experience with cannabis or farming.

“The department has awarded a very valuable cultivation license to an industry beginner that has less experience, knowledge, and ability than the garden-variety home grower in Colorado,” Welby Evangelista, the company’s president, wrote in the appeal letter. “I asked how they’re going to learn cultivation, one of the owners said that ‘everything is on YouTube’ and they will ‘figure it out.'”

Evangelista refused to name the company he was referring to except that it is owned by entrepreneurs in northern Utah.

Some applicants are concerned eight growers will not be enough to meet patient demand in Utah. An undersupply of marijuana could inflate prices and create a black market, Evangelista said.

Winners include medical marijuana cultivators with businesses in other states and greenhouse growers in Utah. Half of the license recipients already have businesses in Utah, while the rest are headquartered in other states like Nevada, Arizona and Ohio.

Growers are not expected to start planting immediately. Licensees will need to pass background checks and finalize their contracts with the state.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Holiday Police Pay-it-Forward event....
Waverly Golden

Salt Lake City Police Department hosts holiday Pay-it-Forward event

Salt Lake City Police Department along with SLC School District paired 50 children with a police officer for a holiday shopping experience.
19 hours ago
This morning the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport o...
Waverly Golden

Snowball Express arrives at Salt Lake City Airport

On Dec. 3 the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport on its way to Orlando Walt Disney World. 
19 hours ago
Four Dead University of Idaho...
Aya Elamroussi, CNN

Authorities swat down rumors surrounding unsolved killings of 4 University of Idaho students

Authorities in a small Idaho city that had not recorded a murder in years are urging the public to be vigilant against rumors and conjectures surrounding the unsolved killings of four college students last month.
19 hours ago
A burrow is among the items an adopted desert tortoise needs. Photo by Utah Division of Wildlife Re...
Mia Alberti, Lianne Kolirin and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Jonathan the tortoise, world’s oldest land animal, celebrates his 190th birthday

The South Atlantic island of St. Helena is celebrating the birthday of the world's oldest living land animal -- a Seychelles giant tortoise called Jonathan, who is turning 190.
19 hours ago
Cam Rising losing his helmet (Photo Credit, Wally Skalij, LA Times)...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: The long and winding road to the championship

Never give up, not on each other, the children, or life. We may be down, but never out. Keep fighting for the things we hold dear. We believe in each other.
19 hours ago
In this image taken from NASA video, a solar panel is unfolded at the International Space Station, ...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Astronauts will give the space station a power boost during Saturday spacewalk

The International Space Station will receive a power boost during a spacewalk on Saturday, as NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio install a solar array outside the floating laboratory.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
6 companies challenge Utah’s medical marijuana growing picks