Author: A.J. Herrington
A medical cannabis company that was denied a license in Utah is suing current and former state officials along with companies that did receive a license claiming “corruption” in the licensing process and a “bias toward out-of-state applicants,” Fox 13 reports. The firm, JLPR, has previously lost a separate lawsuit asking the Utah Court of Appeals to undo the licensing process.
The lawsuit claims state Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) officials improperly influenced bids, rushed the process, changed the application requirements to favor certain companies, conflicts of interest in license evaluators, and improper communication between agriculture officials and some applicants.
The lawsuit cites an audit by State Auditor John Dougall which uncovered the conflicts of interest and improper communication. The report went so far as to suggest the state redo the medical cannabis licensing process.
“UDAF’s process was not a ‘blind’ evaluation, meaning the evaluation committee members were aware of the applicants’ identities. The committee awarded licenses to eight growers. We analyzed various aspects of the evaluation and award processes. We note concerns about certain factors and conditions that call into question the independence of the process.”— Dougall, in the audit, via Fox 13
Kerry Gibson, the agriculture commissioner named in the report, no longer holds the post. The current commissioner, Logan Wilde, has said the agency “does not have statutory authority to reevaluate the awarding of cannabis cultivation facility licenses” but would “carefully consider the renewal of licenses by the Cannabis Production Establishment Licensing Board in December of this year.”
The lawsuit asks a federal judge to either grant JLPR a license or deny any renewals until the company is awarded one.
Author: TG Branfalt