Ash Grove farm passed over for medical marijuana license

Lawrence County Farms, LLC, located west of Ash Grove, has been turned down for a medical marijuana cultivation facility license by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Lawrence County Farms was one of more than 500 applicants who applied to DHSS for a license earlier in 2019. Sixty applicants were approved.
According to a press release found on the DHSS website, the agency used a “blind” scoring system to determine which applicants would get a license.
“Throughout this entire process, it has been important to us to be fair and transparent as we implement all pieces of this program,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the DHSS Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation, was quoted as saying in the press release. “This is why we chose to employ a ‘blind’ application scorer who had no access to applicants’ identifying information.”
Applicants for the medical marijuana cultivation facility licenses had to turn in an application consisting of 68 questions asked of all license applicants (the DHSS also took applications for licenses for medical marijuana testing facilities, dispensary facilities, manufacturing facilities and transportation facilities), as well as 11 questions designed specifically for cultivation facility applicants. The first 68 questions focused on topics such as facility security, the character and experience of the applicants, business experience, experience in cannabis, and the site’s potential for positive impact in its community. The other 11 questions focused on topics such as the applicant’s experience in agriculture or horticulture, experience in maintaining a sanitary product, and the technology that would be used in growing medical marijuana. The maximum score possible on an application was 1900. The top scorer in Missouri received a score of 1584.20. Lawrence County Farms received a score of 1321.62. DHSS stated the denials “are issued for several reasons, including failure to meet minimum qualification, the results of an analysis for substantial common control, the results of application scoring, or application withdrawal.”
At least one applicant who was rejected for a cultivation license is taking legal action. Paul Callicoat, owner of the Sarcoxie Nursery Cultivation Center, filed suit against the DHSS in Cole County Circuit Court on Monday, Dec. 30, over their scoring system. The suit argues the location criteria in the scoring system gave “bonus points to the applicants who satisfied such criteria, by enhancing the final overall score by thirty to forty-percent … for those applicants seeking to locate their cultivation facility in an ‘economically distressed area’ identified by specific zip codes … thus resulting in a scoring enhancement that disproportionately far outweighed all other criteria to be evaluated.”
The suit asks the court to declare the 60-license limit on medical marijuana cultivation licenses and the “zip code bonuses” unconstitutional; it also asks the court to direct Randall Williams, director of the DHSS and Lyndall Fraker, director of the Medical Marijuana Section of the DHSS, to cease awarding “the unconstitutional geographical bonus points,’ and to also direct them to award Sarcoxie Nursery Cultivation Center a license to act as a medical marijuana cultivation facility.
The suit also sought a restraining order against the DHSS to prevent them from awarding the licenses. The restraining order was denied on Thursday, Jan. 2.
While Lawrence County Farms was turned down for a cultivation license, another Greene County business was granted a license to transport medical marijuana. CST Transportation, LLC, of Walnut Grove, was one of about 20 businesses to be granted a medical marijuana transportation license, according to information released by the DHSS on Monday, Dec. 23.
Attempts to locate the owners of Lawrence County Farms and CST Transportation for comment were unsuccessful as of press time.



Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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