SALT LAKE CITY – Legal action has been filed against Utah’s medical cannabis cultivation system by a company that has been turned down for a license.
JLPR Inc. filed a lawsuit over the weekend against the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, including former agency officials involved in the medical cannabis program, officials of the state purchases and even rival companies.
“Corruption and other issues in the agency’s selection and appeals process were a flagrant violation of JLPR due process and equal rights of protection,” lawsuit says, filed in court of the United States District.
In 2018, voters in Utah approved Proposition 2, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The Utah state legislature overturned the voter-approved voting initiative, creating a tightly regulated system. In 2019, the UDAF had 10 cannabis cultivation licenses to offer. He issued only eight, sparking a series of protests from companies that were dismissed.
The lawsuit accuses UDAF officials of improperly influencing the bidding process for a coveted cultivation license. He also claims that the process was rushed, that the requirements were changed to favor some companies over others, and that there were conflicts of interest between license assessors and poor communication between them. state agriculture officials and businesses looking for a license.
“Bias towards out-of-state candidates is evident in the face of selection,” JLPR attorney Jason Kerr wrote in the lawsuit.
JLPR cites an audit conducted by Utah State Auditor John Dougall, who found conflict and miscommunication in the grow license process. Dougall’s audit went so far as to recommend that the UDAF abandon its authorization process and start over.
But JLPR has lost its protest and earlier appeals for not getting a license. The Utah Court of Appeals previously rejected the company’s efforts to overturn the cultivation license process.
“We have no comment at this time as we have not received or been able to investigate these complaints,” Utah Agriculture Commissioner Craig Buttars said in a statement to FOX 13 on Tuesday.
The lawsuit calls on a federal judge to either license JLPR or order the state not to renew another company’s license until it obtains one.