New Jersey regulators can resume its review of medical cannabis license applications – delayed more than a year – after an appellate court found in favor of the state Department of Health’s application review process, NJ.com reports.
Eight industry applicants had sued the state in 2019 claiming the Health Department wrongly rejected their applications due, in part, to corrupt PDF files and local approval denials. A lower court had issued a stay in the case, which prevented regulators from reviewing or issuing new industry licenses.
The court ruled that applicants were given clear instructions about application guidelines – including a webinar – to assist them with the process.
The court did rule favorably for ZY Labs, whose application had included three letters of support from prominent community members but not from the municipality. The decision sent the application back to the Health Department for further review, determining that the three letters constituted community approval under the agency’s guidance, the report says.
Joshua Bauchner, an attorney who represented several of the appellants, said in a statement to NJ.com that he and his clients are “disappointed in the Court’s decision,” saying it “anachronistically relied on an agency investigation occurring after the disqualification decision – confirming the decision, itself, was baseless.”
Craig Provorny, another attorney on the case, called the Health Department investigation insufficient.
“Community Wellness of New Jersey is very disappointed in the decision. Community Wellness is a 100% minority-owned business that is the type of operation you would think the state would like to participate in this program. We believe the appellate division ignored the facts about the system crashing, and other mismanagement on behalf of the Department of Health.” – Provorny to NJ.com
The Health Department will review a total of 146 applications for as many as 24 new licenses.
The ruling comes as state lawmakers extended the date for Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to act on the cannabis legalization bill approved in December from today to Monday as lawmakers and the governor continue to negotiate a clean-up bill on cannabis possession by minors that the governor wants before he agrees to sign the legislation. The bill is required under a constitutional amendment approved by voters last November.
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