A Baltimore judge ruled Wednesday that a case that could disrupt Maryland’s fledgling medical marijuana industry should proceed to trial.
Circuit Judge Barry Williams said a trial should determine whether state regulators acted outside the law when they chose which companies won lucrative licenses to grow the drug.
Williams dismissed the arguments of state lawyers, who wanted the case thrown out. If the court finds that the licenses were awarded improperly, he said, it has the power to order the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to remedy the situation.
“It’s not something that can be determined at this juncture,” Williams said from the bench. He did not set a trial date.
At issue are the two of the state’s 15 medical marijuana growing licenses that were awarded to companies that did not rank among the top 15 applicants.
Regulators said they awarded the licenses to the two lower-ranked firms, located on the lower Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland, to broaden the geographic diversity of the growers, as required by state law.
The two top-15 firms that were displaced by that action sued the state, arguing they were not treated fairly because regulators never told companies their proposed location would determine whether they got a license.
Lawyers for those companies, Maryland Cultivation and Processing and GTI Maryland, argued the state acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying them licenses.
“All of what was conveyed by the commission was they would pick the best, the cream of the crop,” said Alfred F. Belcuore, a lawyer for Maryland Cultivation and Processing. “If we would have been asked to move from Frederick County into Prince George’s County, we would have said yes.”