Lawyers for Missouri regulators go to the mattresses to halt new license awards

Wikipedia

The Missouri State Supreme Court.

“Future applicants beware!”

That’s the kicker line to a filing the State of Missouri filed last week with the Missouri Supreme Court, as it argued one more time that it should not have to release confidential cultivation license application archives to an applicant who claims the state’s medical marijuana license application process was arbitrary and capricious. The state has already lost arguments before an Administrative Hearing Commissioner, the circuit court, and last month to the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District

The state is arguing that since the constitutional provision for medical marijuana license applications guarantees confidentiality to applicants, it should not have to reveal any information, and that by doing so, future applicants will be reluctant to apply. The plaintiff in the case, Kings Garden Midwest, is arguing that guarantees of confidentiality have never applied to court cases, and it needs access to application archives to prove that the state’s scoring process is flawed. So far, every court has agreed with Kings Garden.

[Download Missouri’s State Supreme Court filing for Kings Garden Midwest case]

If the Supreme Court accepts the Kings Garden Midwest case, it is likely a decision will be rendered this summer.

Meanwhile, in another case, attorneys for the state filed their first brief with the Cole County Circuit Court outlining arguments why Heya Excello should not receive two more cultivation licenses. Last February an Administrative Hearing Commissioner awarded Heya Excello the licenses on grounds that the state did not score all identical application answers equally.

The state’s new filing argues that although the guidance state regulators provided to application scoring company Wise Health Solutions, “was to score identical answers the same”, Wise conducted an analysis of the application answers and found the differences were not different enough. According to the state, Wise’s analysis found “applications met or exceeded the accuracy threshold set by the Department”, and therefore did not warrant score corrections. 

[Download Petitioner Brief for DHSS v. Heya Excello Cultivation]

In a kind of circular logic, the state argues that because it reviewed its own scoring process, and found no problems with it, application scores should stay the same. Therefore, the Commissioner does not have the right to order the state to make changes to scores and award Heya Excello the two additional licenses.