‘It’s suspicious and suggests favoritism’: 6 companies challenge Utah’s medical marijuana growing picks

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.

‘WHO DOESN’T WANT TO MAKE HISTORY?’: Competition to grow medical marijuana in Utah heats up

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

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