Utah officials dismiss protests by companies denied marijuana growing licenses

FILE - This Jan. 28, 2019, file photo shows marijuana buds in Akron, Ohio. Six companies are challenging Utah's decision to award a smaller number of medical marijuana grower licenses. The state's Division of Purchasing said Monday, July 29, they received appeals from six applicants who did not receive a license prior to Friday's deadline. Some applicants have said Utah is granting licenses to unqualified cultivators and will create a cannabis shortage. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

The state has turned down appeals from six companies that applied to grow medical cannabis in Utah but failed to make the cut in the scramble over a handful of cultivation licenses.

The businesses that protested the state’s selection process were among the 81 that vied for a license to produce marijuana for Utah’s emerging medical cannabis program. The state was authorized by law to name up to 10 cultivators, but earlier this month announced that it would initially only award eight licenses to prevent an oversupply of cannabis.

Six of the losing applicants — Pure UT, North Star Holdings, Total Health Sciences, Wild West Holding, JLPR and Tintic United Bioscience — lodged complaints about the state’s decision, claiming scoring inconsistencies and bias, among other things.

The state’s director of purchasing and general services, Christopher Hughes, on Wednesday announced his decision to dismiss the protests. The six companies can appeal his decision to the Utah Procurement Policy Board, he said.

The Salt Lake Tribune will update this story.