Lawsuit appealing medical marijuana license may delay sales in N.O.

Board member responds after lawsuit filed appealing medical marijuana license
Updated: May. 15, 2018 at 6:12 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - There's a chance the sale of medical marijuana could be delayed in the New Orleans area because of a new lawsuit. Rx Greenhouse, the original front-runner for a medical marijuana license in the city, filed suit against the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, which voted instead for the number four choice, H&W Drug Store.

Now, Rx Greenhouse wants a review of the entire application process.

Attorney for Rx Greenhouse Alex Onstott said he filed the appeal so they can reset and restart the license award process, effectively stripping the current license from H&W.

"It doesn't pass the smell test," Onstott said. "We need to know if you have a rationality for doing this. We don't see one, and if there wasn't, then that decision should be vacated."

Onstott said you only have to look at the difference in the two pharmacies' applications. Rx Greenhouse's application was more than 800 pages. H&W's was 52.

"The primary problem - you have someone from out of state incredibly qualified with experience who is passed over for someone local who doesn't have the same qualifications," Onstott said.

Louisiana Board of Pharmacy member Ricky Mannino said the density of the application doesn't denote its strength. But the lawsuit doesn't come as a surprise to him.

"I felt that the process was subjective and arbitrary as far as the scoring," Mannino said.

Mannino said while he stands by the board's decision, he's concerned that more emphasis wasn't put on certain qualifications.

"The process was, well, up to you to tell us what you want to do, and we're going to give you a score on that, and I don't think that's the way we should have done it," Mannino said. "We should have said, 'Fine. You cannot be in a school zone, you can't be this far from a church.'"

While the owner of H&W didn't want to comment on this story, he told FOX 8 back in April that the board made the right decision.

"Hey man, this company has been in business for over 50 years in the New Orleans community," said Ruston Henry. "They looked at our proposal, they looked at our presentation and they reconsidered, and they said, 'Hey, we're gonna go with H&W Drug Store."

"He (Henry) just rocked the interview, that's all I can say," Mannino

In the pharmacy industry, when an applicant is denied a permit they must disclose that information in future applications. Such is now the case for Rx Greenhouse after the board's denial.

Onstott said they're also hoping with the appeal to wipe that mark from the company's record.

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