Court dismisses suit that challenged Pennsylvania medical marijuana program

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A state appeals court threw out a lawsuit that could have undone Pennsylvania’s nascent medical marijuana program.

The suit was filed in September 2017 by Keystone ReLeaf of Bethlehem, whose bid for a dispensing license failed.

The lawsuit, had it succeeded, could have delayed patient access and the state’s MMJ industry for years, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In the lawsuit, Keystone argued the application process was conducted haphazardly and had been “infected by bias and favoritism” because Pennsylvania’s health department – which managed the application process – had kept the panelists who picked the winners secret.

Keystone’s lawyers said those problems invalidated the application process, according to the newspaper.

The company sought an injunction from the court that would have canceled all grow and dispensary permits awarded by the health department, The Inquirer reported. That would have forced the state to start the process from scratch.

But in writing the court’s majority decision dismissing the suit, Judge Michael H. Wojcik noted that Keystone should have taken its complaints to the health department before going to court, according to The Inquirer.

“Having failed to go through the administrative appeal process, petitioner’s allegations regarding the process are speculative at best,” the judge wrote.

The state has so far issued 27 dispensary licenses and 12 grow licenses, and regulators started taking applications for more licenses earlier this month.

In a statement, the health department said the decision “reinforces that the department’s medical marijuana permitting process is fair and consistent.”