Lawyers for Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts will get the opportunity to question the executive director of the state health department’s medical marijuana program as to why the group was dropped from the list of nonprofit dispensary projects allowed to move forward.

A motion to question Karen van Unen was granted by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Billings on Thursday. Van Unen will give her deposition sometime in the coming week since Billings set a deadline of Oct. 9.

In his order, Billings wrote that the nonprofit organization believes van Unen succumbed to political pressure, making her decision to deny it a license “in response to directives from the governor’s office and members of the Legislature.”

Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, headed by former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt until his resignation last month, had been awarded three provisional licenses by the Department of Public Health in January for dispensaries in Mashpee, Plymouth and Taunton.

After investing considerable money preparing a grow facility in Plymouth and the three dispensaries, the organization received a letter from van Unen in June saying it had been “non-selected” based on further state review. Eleven applicants were allowed to move forward.

Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts has since filed an appeal of the decision in the Suffolk County court.

“Proceeding from the premise that the February-to-June re-examination of its applications was a departure from the process specified in DPH’s own regulations and other materials, Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts proposed to explore, in a deposition of the executive director, the reasons why this occurred,” Billings wrote in his decision.

Billings then cited an email sent by Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett to a friend, in which she discusses “media criticism directed at her” over her January selection of Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts for three licenses. Some press reports surmised that Bartlett had been influenced by her friendship …read more