Two Maryland companies say the state is wrongly refusing to explain why they were abruptly bumped off a list of 15 finalists to be licensed to grow medical marijuana in the state.
Green Thumb Industries and Maryland Cultivation and Processing have asked a Baltimore judge to decide whether the state is abusing the “deliberative process privilege,” which allows internal deliberations among members of a state commission to be kept secret.
Assistant Attorney General Heather Nelson cited that rule in more than 80 objections to attorneys’ questions during the January deposition of Deborah Miran — the only person on a Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission subcommittee who voted against replacing the two companies with others ranked lower.
Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman with the attorney general’s office, said the office doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation. “The appropriate forum to litigate this is in the courtroom, not in the press,” she said.
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, said the case reinforces the government watchdog group’s concerns about abuse of such exemptions.
“We are hopeful that the judge will take a close look at the overuse of privilege here and hopefully open the door to more transparency in the case,” Bevan-Dangel said.
Last summer, Maryland selected 15 finalists from 145 applicants to grow and process medical marijuana, but none has received final approval. Maryland is one of 28 states that allow medical marijuana. The initiative has attracted intense interest in a market that stands to be lucrative because the law allows wide patient access.
Green Thumb applied to grow marijuana for medical use in Washington County and initially was ranked 12th in an evaluation of qualifications. Maryland Cultivation and Processing applied for a license in Frederick County and was ranked eighth.
The sudden rise of Holistic Industries from the 20th ranking to 14th to grow marijuana in Prince George’s County