Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program could experience delays if a recent lawsuit goes in favor a disgruntled applicant, calling for a complete redo of the licensing process.
Last Friday, attorneys for Keystone Releaf LLC filed a complaint in the Commonwealth Court seeking an injunction against the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The lawsuit, which suggests the medical marijuana licensing process was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable,” is calling for the state to scrap all of its cultivation and dispensary licenses and begin anew.
Keystone was among the hundreds of companies that applied to become one of the companies permitted to produce, process and sell medical marijuana products to the state’s registered patients. The company did not secure a permit to participate during the first round. Another round of selections is scheduled for 2018.
In the lawsuit, the company claims the Department of Health violated the state’s Right-to-Know law by keeping the parties responsible for selecting the license winners a secret. The complaint suggests the selection process was “infected by bias and favoritism.”
“No applicant understands how or why they scored a certain score in any category,” the lawsuit reads, “and when challenged by way of administrative appeal, [the Department of Health] has, to date, utterly refused to explain or defend its scoring decisions.”
Earlier this week, state Senator Daylin Leach, one of the lawmakers responsible for the medical marijuana law, said any delay to the program would force patients to “endure excruciating pain, agony, and, in some cases, death.”
Leach is asking the courts to disregard the lawsuit, because he believes it would cripple the state’s medical marijuana program before it ever has a chance to get off the ground.
For now, the Health Department has no plans to abandon its mission to provide Pennsylvania patients access to medical marijuana.
“We are moving forward with a patient-focused medical marijuana program to get Pennsylvanians with serious medical conditions the help they desperately need,” DOH spokeswoman April Hutcheson said in a statement.
Legal experts say there is little to no chance Keystone will be successful in securing the injunction.
“While raising many valid factual points, satisfying the `arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable standard’ is a spectacularly difficult task,” Attorney Steve Schain of the Hoban Law Group told Philly.com. “Based on their petition and pleading, I believe Keystone ReLeaf LLC has fallen short of establishing they’ve been irreparably harmed.”