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Arnold Weiner and Michael Berman Successful in Oral Argument Before Maryland Court of Appeals

July 28, 2017 News

Court of Appeals grants medical marijuana growers’ right to intervene

Maryland’s top court has granted eight medical marijuana growers the right to intervene in a lawsuit that could delay the state’s fledgling program.

The Court of Appeals, one day after a rare July hearing, allowed the growers to argue against a requested temporary restraining order that could delay the issuing of licenses and potentially result in the revocation of the only grower license issued so far.

“We are gratified by the decision of the Court of Appeals granting our clients the right to defend themselves and their considerable investments in this challenge to this critically important statewide public health program,” said Arnold M. Weiner, partner at Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC, attorney for various grower awardees.

The court said Holistic Industries LLC, Curio Cultivation LLC, ForwardGro LLC, SunMed Growers LLC, Doctor’s Orders Maryland LLC, Green Leaf Medical LLC, Kind Therapeutics USA LLC, and Temescal Wellness of MD LLC would be allowed to argue against a temporary restraining order sought by a company that was unsuccessful in its application for a license.

Some of those companies awaiting final approval from the commission will lose between $90,000 and $175,000 per month, he added.

The court also left it up to the trial court to determine whether Alternative Medicine Maryland LLC waited too long to challenge the issuing of 15 growers’ licenses and is now irreparably harming companies who received preliminary approval with its appeal.

Attorneys for AMM are seeking to overturn the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission’s awarding of 15 growers’ licenses on the basis that the panel did not provide for racial diversity. The company is minority-led, and none of the 15 licenses that were preliminarily approved went to companies with minority ownership.

The Court of Appeals in early June denied a motion by AMM that sought to keep in place a temporary injunction issued by Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams barring the state’s medical cannabis commission from issuing the 14 additional growing or processing licenses. AMM also asked Williams to revoke the license issued to Stevensonville-based ForwardGro that was issued in May.

“We are confident that in the end the circuit court will reach the same result and issue a restraining order until the commission complies with its legislative mandate to consider racial and ethnic diversity when granting medical cannabis licenses,” said Brian S. Brown, of Brown & Barron LLC in Baltimore, a lawyer for AMM

The Court of Appeals’ two-page order also affirmed Williams’ ruling to bar prospective patients, referred to as Jane and John Doe, as well as the Maryland Medical Wholesale Cannabis Trade Association from intervening in the same case.

“We’re very pleased that the voices of our member growers, who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars complying with the State’s requirements, will be heard,” said Jake Van Wingerden, president of the trade association.

AMM was ordered to pay for 50 percent of the costs of the July 27 hearing. The Coalition for Patent Medicinal Access LLC and the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis trade Association will split the balance of the costs equally.

Fourteen growers are expected to seek final approval for their licenses by Aug. 15.

The Court of Appeals said it would explain its decision in a written opinion to be filed at a later date.

The case is Jane and John Doe et al. v. Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC et al., No. 98 September Term 2016.