Utah marijuana business licensing process biased, audit shows

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A state investigation into the Utah agency that regulates the state’s medical marijuana program turned up problems with the process for selecting cannabis growers.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, a report by the Office of the State Auditor took issue with how the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food handed out eight cultivation licenses last year and recommends the state reevaluate the permits.

Former Commissioner Kerry Gibson is at the heart of the investigation after having chosen six members for the evaluation committee that selected the eight license winners.

The audit found two of the members selected by Gibson scored the roughly 80 applications in close fashion, ranking the top seven applicants in similar order, the Tribune reported.

According to the audit, the likelihood of that happening by accident is less than 5%, raising the possibility that Gibson’s choices were working together.

After the initial application evaluations, the audit found, the other committee members’ scores were adjusted to reflect the tallies of the two aforementioned members.

Three of the winning cultivators wouldn’t have succeeded without those adjustments, according to the report.