For security and public relations reasons, Troy Young will not identify the location of the out-of-the-way field where he’s constructing a greenhouse the size of a Walmart.
It is possible that within a few months, this building will be filled with the leaves, stems and buds of one of the first legal cannabis crops in Utah. His chances are roughly 1 in 8 — as his business, Moon Lake Farms, competes with 80 others for a handful of marijuana cultivation licenses.
“I’ve always wanted to get involved in this. I mean, there’s a financial opportunity and then, it’s also … kind of a fun business,” said Young, a Salt Lake City entrepreneur with a penchant for new ventures.
“I think it’s smaller than in other places, probably just because of the unique climate of Utah,” said Tom Paskett, executive director of the Utah Cannabis Association.
And by climate, he continued, he doesn’t mean the growing conditions.
“I think there’s still some social and cultural buy-in the industry is going to have to work on doing,” he said.
A spokesperson with the state’s agriculture department said it expects to award the 10 licenses later this month, and stakes in that announcement are high for applicants who have poured time, energy and money into the business opportunity.
“There’s going to be 71 applicants that are really upset,” said Darren Johnson, a Saratoga Springs businessman who applied for a cultivation license.
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Johnson, who owns a hemp processing company called Wasatch Extraction, described the recent application process as “all-encompassing.”
“It’s all I’ve thought about for the last month,” he said this week.
Originally from Oregon, Johnson said he’s long