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Md. cannabis association seeks to intervene in lawsuit against state

The commission overseeing Maryland’s nascent medical marijuana industry will release Wednesday the names and rankings of the top-20 grower applicants and top-30 processor applicants. But those not selected also would like to see information about how applicants were selected, such as the scoring and evaluation of each application. (Thinkstock)

An association representing Maryland medical marijuana growers and processors wants to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the state’s process for awarding licenses. (Thinkstock)

Lawyers for an association of medical cannabis growers and processors are asking Maryland’s highest court to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit that could further delay the troubled program.

Alan Rifkin, managing partner of Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC and  lead attorney for a group of plaintiffs that includes members of the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association and potential patients, are seeking to intervene in a lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court. Rifkin, in a brief filed Friday afternoon, argued that Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams was wrong when he denied the group the ability to participate.

“It is beyond disingenuous for (Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC) to assert that grower awardees, who have qualified or are qualifying for licenses and expended enormous sums of money, have no interest to be protected while AMM, which was rejected and constructed nothing, seeks injunctive relief because its ‘lost’ interest in a grower’s license is worth millions of dollars and the first two years of operation are additionally valuable because of the first-to-market rights,” Rifkin wrote in his brief to the court.

The brief is the first of a series of filings that is expected over the next month in advance of a July 27 hearing in the Court of Appeals.

Brian S. Brown, of Brown & Barron LLC, who represents Alternative Medicine Maryland, said late Friday that he had not yet had a chance to review the filing and could not offer an immediate comment.

Three weeks ago, the Court of Appeals denied a motion by Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC seeking to keep in place a temporary injunction issued by Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams that barred the state’s medical cannabis commission from issuing additional growing or processing licenses.

AMM sought the injunction as part of a lawsuit it filed last year that contends the commission failed to take racial diversity into account when it ranked applicants and gave 15 preliminary approval.

The state issued one license in May to ForwardGro, a Stevensonville-based company. Until the Court of Appeals stepped in, Williams’ injunction might have resulted in an order for them to cease operations.

Rifkin argued that an injunction would harm licensees who are working toward final approval by an Aug. 15 deadline and that delays would result in layoffs and closed businesses.

“In fact, that impairment is what AMM expressly intends,” Rifkin wrote.

Additionally, Rifkin said the delays would result in patients not being able to access the drug.

“AMM threatens intervenors with harms that differ from those that the general public would suffer. Fortunately, most of us do not need medical cannabis. And, most of the public has not invested in cannabis facilities. These unique harms confer standing and fully support intervention,” Rifkin wrote.

Alternative Medicine Maryland is one of three companies suing the state commission, citing failings of the commission.

Alternative Medicine Maryland is a minority-led company. None of the 15 licenses that were preliminarily approved went to companies with minority ownership.




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