California judge rules shuttered marijuana testing lab can reopen

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A California Superior Court judge ruled that a marijuana testing lab can reopen immediately after having to close in January because regulators revoked its license.

Judge Frank Roesch wrote in his ruling late Thursday that the state Bureau of Cannabis Control was “prohibited from enforcing the ‘revocation’ issued” last month to Hayward-based Harrens Lab, and he ordered that the lab can “continue to act under (its provisional) license until further order by the court.”

Harrens filed suit against the Bureau of Cannabis Control a few weeks after its provisional license was revoked, arguing that a lack of an appeals process for the license revocation was a violation of its right to due process.

Roesch set a hearing for March 25 so the two sides may further argue whether the state has a right to a preliminary injunction against the lab.

That hearing sets the stage for a larger legal question as to whether marijuana companies operating on provisional licenses have a right to due process, said attorney James Anthony, who represents Harrens Lab.

“The lab’s position is that the (83% of the) provisional licensees that form the bulk of the multi-billion dollar California cannabis industry have a constitutionally protected property interest in their licenses. And that therefore the government cannot shut them down without due process of law,” Anthony wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“Judge Roesch remarked that it will be an ‘interesting case,'” Anthony wrote, adding that a final ruling in the case might take months if Harrens prevails at the March 25 hearing.

In a response to the lawsuit, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argued this week that the 8,280 provisional licenses held by marijuana companies have no right to due process under current state law because those permits are designed to be temporary and, thus, those businesses don’t enjoy the same legal standing and rights as full annual licensees.

To date, the state has awarded only 1,670 annual permits.

– John Schroyer