JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A commission that is hearing hundreds of appeals from applicants who want licenses to grow medical marijuana has approved two applications that the state previously rejected.
The state Administrative Hearing Commission on Tuesday awarded Heya Kirksville and Heya Excello cultivation licenses, according to orders issued by Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported [stltoday.com].
The decision comes after the state has spent millions of dollars on legal expenses to defend its decision [apnews.com] to reject hundreds of applicants and limit the number of marijuana business licenses.
The Department of Health and Human Services hired a private contractor in 2019 to score applications, prompting criticism the process was fraught with conflict of interest and other irregularities.
Dandamudi wrote in his ruling the health department is making a "bizarre" claim that it cannot rescore Heya Excello's application because it delegated away its constitutional and regulatory responsibility to a private contractor without further checks and balances.
The health department is "very disappointed with the decisions as we believe there was sufficient evidence to sustain the denial of the licenses," spokeswoman Lisa Cox said.
"These decisions are very narrow in regard to applicability. We are reviewing the decisions and considering whether to appeal," she said.