The Pennsylvania Department of Health received 72 appeals from grower/processor applicants that did not win a medical marijuana license and 70 appeals from applicants denied a dispensary permit, according to a department spokeswoman.
There were actually 73 grower/processor appeals, but one was filed too late, April Hutcheson, spokeswoman for the state’s health department which oversees the medical marijuana program, told Elevated Nation.
The appeal process began June 20 when 12 grower processor permits were announced and then again on June 29 when 27 dispensary licenses were awarded by the state’s department of health. Hutcheson said the state would respond to appealing parties within 10 days of the deadline.
It’s unknown whether this was cited directly in any appeals, but the award of a permit to Pennsylvania Medical Solutions in Scranton, has raised some eyebrows and ire among losing applicants. That’s because PMS is run by Vireo Health which in February had two executives charged with illegally transporting medical cannabis oil from Minnesota to New York.
Hutcheson says there has been no change to the status of the Vireo permit, but more interestingly, when asked IF a licensee had its permit revoked, how would a replacement permittee be selected, she said there would be no permit awarded in its place.
“If a permittee fails to become operational within 6 months or does not fulfill its requirements under the law, the department can revoke the permit,” Hutcheson told Elevated Nation. “The permit is not reissued to another grower/processor or dispensary.”
This is surprising, if not upsetting, news, for losing applicants. John Collins, director of the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana, said June 20 that the department received 457 applications in total: 177 prospective grower/processors and 280 for dispensaries, so there is no shortage of interested, and possibly qualified, parties who could take over for any licensees who face revocations from Pennsylvania.
“I’m not sure if the problem was political, as people expected, so much as the state insisting on doing everything in house and in secret,” said one party involved in a license appeal. “The scoring seemed completely arbitrary and are confusing on many levels.” The source said their group had been approached by other losing applicants about joining in on a class-action suit against the state over its scoring decisions.
“It’s disappointing that they’d risk this medicine – because that’s what this is – getting to the people who need it or risk it costing more than it should just so government can say they didn’t get deceived or made a mistake,” said another person involved with a medical marijuana applicant says the state’s decision to not award a permit to another bidder. “What’s the point of that except to cover their own asses?”