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.