Utah renews cannabis licenses first selected in tainted process

Critics of Utah’s cannabis program say that a damning audit of the Department of Agriculture — which operates the program — does not appear to have triggered needed changes.

KaeCee Kingsley and her business partners in North Star Holdings applied, and did not receive a license to grow cannabis last year.

She was immediately suspicious of the process, telling 2News at the time that something wasn’t right.

The state auditor agreed with her — issuing a report last month that found the process by which the department chose businesses was biased.

Kingsley met with new department leaders since the report was published and was optimistic.

“We’re like OK, he listened to us, it’s a new commissioner,” she said.

But then this week, the Cannabis Establishment Board voted to renew all the licenses that were selected last year in the tainted process.

“What does that say for the audit,” Kingsley said. “We haven’t had any word back, what is really going on?”

2News requests for interviews with department officials were turned down Friday. A department spokesperson issued a statement that said:

“Considering the investment and capital expended by our current licensees, revocation of an existing license may have a significant impact on the cultivators, producers, medical cannabis providers, and patients who rely upon the state to have an appropriate amount of product available to meet their medically necessary needs,” the statement reads. “As such, the Department is actively seeking guidance from the AGO and other state agencies in determining how best to move forward.”

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