Eight companies have been awarded medical cannabis cultivation licenses in Utah, two short of the maximum allowed under the law as officials look to avoid an oversupply, the Associated Press reports. The announcement comes three days later than officials had originally predicted.
The winners include Standard Wellness Utah and Wholesome Ag., who have grown cannabis in Ohio and Connecticut, and Oakbridge Greenhouses, who currently grows hemp for the state.
Christine Stenquist, director and founder of advocacy group Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, or TRUCE, told the AP that she is concerned that eight cultivators won’t be able to meet high patient demand in Utah. The Department of Agriculture and Food estimates patient counts around 100,000, while Justin Arriola, a board member with Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, said the group anticipates patient counts of 180,000.
“We’ve waited years for these big steps to happen. But we’re not giving the patients the care they need with restricted grows and dispensaries.” — Stenquist, to the AP
The license winners still need to pass background checks before their contracts are finalized. Tom Paskett, the executive director of the Utah Cannabis Association, told the AP that he was optimistic about the state’s choices because many of them have strong reputations in the industry.
“Companies will have to work together to have clean facilities and a strong public presentation,” Pasket said in the report. “This program needs to be perfect for Utah, and I think we have a good group of people to accomplish that.”
In all, 81 companies applied to grow medical cannabis in the state. Voters approved the law last year but it was changed by lawmakers to ban edibles and home growing and limit the number of qualifying conditions for the program.