Alleged delays and errors in the implementation of the medical marijuana pilot program in Illinois led to a recent lawsuit regarding the requirements for establishing cultivation centers and dispensaries. Under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, January 1, 2014, there are 22 districts and no more than one license may be issued per district, regulated by the Department of Agriculture administrative rules, approved by the JCAR committee overseeing implementation of the law.
The Plaintiff company, PM Rx LLC of Chicago, competed for the license to operate a cultivation center in District 21 in Kankakee. Its competitor, Cresco Labs won three of 21 licenses to cultivate medical marijuana. The scoring process is being challenged in the lawsuit filed in Cook County. Named as defendant is the Department of Agriculture’s acting director, Philip Nelson.
The lawsuit claims problems in the process of awarding licenses during the Quinn administration.
The issue for the court is whether the bidding and selection process was conducted properly under the medical marijuana law. The system established to process and weigh competitive applications for licenses could be improperly designed and/or improperly evaluated. Either way, blame lies with former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, whose successor, Gov. Bruce Rauner, stated he would work with court to review the process.
“”We understood and acknowledged that the process the Quinn administration applied would likely expose the State to significant and costly litigation,” Rauner’s office stated in an email. “We believe the steps we took to fix the errors in the Quinn selection process reduce, but cannot entirely eliminate, the risk of litigation.[i]”
It is disputed whether Quinn ever met with the Plaintiff’s competitor who won the bid for a license.
In the lawsuit, PM Rx claims that its competitor, Cresco scored lower and should not have won the bid for the cultivation license, and that when a representative from Cresco had a meeting with then Gov. Quinn, they ended up with a higher score. A Spokesman for Quinn denies the allegation. There was a ban on state regulators meeting with applicants during the process of candidate selections and PM Rx alleges Quinn acted improperly.
In a recent update, Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program: Implementation Update #3, we identified some of the rules and changes implemented since the effective date of the law. In this update the requirements for cultivation centers are listed. Including raising the money and capital required by the state, PM Rx claims it met all the stated requirements and possessed a higher score and therefore should have been awarded a cultivation center license over its competitor.
In other medical marijuana news, some individuals are not so patient.
Meanwhile, some individuals attempted to start selling medical marijuana licenses prematurely, risking a complaint for violating the new law. For more, read Caution: “Medical cannabis clinics” are not yet authorized to open shop, complaint issued.
Michael V. Favia & Associates will continue to report on the news about the implementation of the medical marijuana law in Illinois. Michael V. Favia is also an attorney of counsel to the law firm of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., a business oriented law firm with offices in several states, representing clients similar to the individuals involved in this lawsuit over District 21 in Kankakee.
Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to assist physicians with professional licensing matters and lawsuits. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.
[i] Chicago Tribune, Lawsuit challenges Illinois process for medical marijuana licensing. By Robert McCoppin, Feb. 25, 2015.