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September 11, 2017

Company suing to temporarily halt Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program

State Sen. Daylin Leach asks Keystone ReLeaf to drop parts of lawsuit

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is asking a company to drop parts of a lawsuit that would rescind the permits given out for the state's new medical marijuana program and put a stay on the program altogether.

In a letter to the attorney for Keystone ReLeaf, state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, asks the company not to seek those specific forms of legal relief as part of a larger suit that was filed over allegations the application process for permits was unfair.

Keystone ReLeaf, which unsuccessfully tried to win a dispensary permit, asked for an injunction last week to block the Pennsylvania Department of Health from issuing any permits until it implements a "new, transparent and fair" process, according to LehighValleyLive.

Attorney Seth Tipton said in a statement provided to the website that the department is "absolutely committed to secrecy" and refuses to give out information on why applicants that didn't get a permit were unsuccessful.

Leach wrote that while he has "no problem" with the company seeking legal relief, he believes the request to temporarily shut down the program is unnecessary.

The senator stressed that he had no preference as to what companies were awarded permits.

"My commitment to neutrality extends to your lawsuit," Leach wrote. "That said, it is my belief that any unjust inconvenience or financial loss your client may have suffered can be remedied by a court in many ways short of shutting down the entire program."

Leach, the driving force behind getting medical marijuana legislation through Harrisburg last year, cited the patients who will have to wait even longer to get the treatment they need. The state expects the program to be operational by 2018.

"If the entire program is delayed, people will be forced to needlessly endure excruciating pain, agony, and, in some cases, death," Leach wrote.

Tipton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In June, 27 dispensary permits were handed out across the state, with each permit-holder allowed to operate as many as two dispensaries. Before that, 12 grower permits were awarded.

The winning applicants were picked by an anonymous panel of state employees. When the winners were announced, the Department of Health released heavily redacted applications but did not explain how the applicants were scored, according to

Last month, the state's Office of Open Records denied the Bethlehem company's request seeking all records regarding the company's applicant score. The office said in its denial that Keystone ReLeaf's application wasn't scored because it was incomplete when the department received it.