The Illinois Department of Agriculture must turn over some of the applications it considered during the time it awarded medical marijuana growing licenses to various bidders, two courts ruled Thursday. The decisions centers on a lawsuit filed in February claiming state regulators may have mishandled the process of granting licenses and have kept the process secret. Turning over some of the applications would give lawyers a chance to review the process, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, PM Rx LLC, which lost a bid for a license to grow marijuana in Kankakee to competitor Cresco Labs LLC, alleges that Cresco Labs was given special consideration by former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. "Unlike the State, we firmly believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant for this selection process,” PM Rx said in a statement, according to the Tribune. Earlier this month, a judge temporarily suspended Cresco Lab’s growing license pending investigation. On Thursday, the Illinois Appellate Court and Cook County Circuit Court also affirmed Cook County Judge Kathleen Kennedy’s earlier ruling to temporarily pull the license.
Quinn signed the state’s medical marijuana legislation in August 2013. The law set up a four-year trial period for marijuana to be grown and sold in the state, although several pending lawsuits that challenge the state’s process of awarding cultivation licenses have delayed the program. Quinn’s administration left office in January before the licenses were distributed.
PM Rx’s lawsuit claims Quinn met with a representative of Cresco Labs during the selection process, despite applicants being barred from meeting with regulators. Quinn has previously denied any wrongdoing.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, who took over the licensing procedure from the previous administration, has said the state “will fully participate in any judicial review of the sections process and comply with any orders issued by a court.”