A July 1 medical marijuana license application deadline is looming in Utah, but the names of the businesses that might grow cannabis are still under wraps.
Here is what you need to know:
- State officials leading the licensing process said this week they won’t release applicants’ names now but will likely make applicant information public when licenses are awarded in mid-July.
- Applications to grow medical marijuana in Utah opened May 31.
- The state will allow up to 10 growers, including out-of-state cultivators.
Some states have shielded MMJ license applications from the public, including Nevada.
Several companies that lost bids for Nevada dispensary licenses last year filed lawsuits arguing the process wasn’t transparent.
Utah wants to avoid similar legal quagmires.
Assistant Attorney General Paul Tonks, who is helping coordinate MMJ license applications, said releasing applicants’ names once licenses are awarded will increase transparency.
Chris Hughes, director of the state’s Division of Purchasing who is assisting Tonks with the license process, said releasing applicants’ names before permits are awarded could negatively sway the process.
“Knowing who their competition is could create undue influence or give potential growers an unfair advantage,” Hughes said.
MMJ farmers and cannabis advocates said they support the state’s decision.
Tom Paskett, executive director of the Utah Cannabis Association, said releasing information during the process could do more harm than good.
“We don’t want folks framing their bids based on other applicants, or the competition to start before cultivators even get their licenses,” he said.
Marijuana dispensaries are set to open in Utah next year.
– Associated Press