Questions raised in a critical state audit partially focused on the selection process for the firms tabbed last year to get cannabis growing licenses didn’t keep them from getting their paperwork renewed for another year.
The Cannabis Production Establishment Board this week unanimously renewed the growing licenses for the eight firms, including True North, one of the firms mentioned, though not by name, in last month’s audit. The board, part of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, or UDAF, met Monday, approving the eight licenses with little comment.
UDAF spokeswoman Caroline Hargraves noted the guidelines governing the license renewal process, in part that licensees must show they are producing cannabis at the levels outlined in their operating plans. Utah lawmakers legalized cannabis for medical use in 2018 and the growers supply the dispensaries that provide medical cannabis to patients. But she didn’t respond to additional queries.
The Nov. 17 audit by the Office of the State Auditor was focused on concerns brought to its attention about UDAF operations during the tenure of former UDAF Commissioner Kerry Gibson, from April 2019 until January 2020. The report outlined weak points in UDAF’s “control environment” that it said resulted in misuse of public funds, noting excessive overtime payments to one staffer and Gibson’s “inappropriate” use of a state vehicle, among other things. Gibson is a former Weber County commissioner.
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