Judge: Rejected medical marijuana firm can question state pot czar – Boston Herald
Attorneys for a company that had been denied a license to operate medical marijuana dispensaries will have the chance to question the executive director of the state agency charged with examining dispensary applications, a Superior Court judge has ruled.
Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts Inc. can depose Karen van Unen, the executive director of the Department of Public Health’s Massachusetts Marijuana for Medical Use Program, according to Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Billings.
The company, which had been run by William D. Delahunt before he stepped down last month, believes the Governor’s Executive Team office and the Secretary of Health & Human Services and members of the Legislature forced van Unen’s hand in denying the license, according to the court order.
“MMM seeks evidentiary support for its theory that DPH, acceding to political pressure, violated its own regulations when it utilized what was supposed to be an ‘inspection’ period to conduct a thorough re-vetting of the applications it had initially selected,” Billings wrote.
DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, in an e-mail dated June 12, 2014— “apparently to a recruiter” — said she removed herself from the vetting process of MMM and hired “an executive director for the program who would have a lot of autonomy,” according to the court document. Later, a selection committee with two DPH staffers and four outside members “reviewed the scores … and then they provided recommendations for awards,” the order reads.
Those recommendations were reviewed “with directives from both Secretary and Governor,” according to the Commissioner’s email.
“(T)he e-mail raises legitimate questions of substantial public and private concern,” Billings wrote. “They will not likely be answered in the agency record of proceedings, yet they are material to a determination of whether the non-selection process in this case was impermissibly affected by considerations ‘extraneous to the prescriptions of the regulatory scheme,’ to the point …read more