Pubdate: Fri, 01 Sep 2017
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2017 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Sam Wood


In a decision that could change the way future medical marijuana
permits are awarded in Pennsylvania, the state has ordered the Pa.
Department of Health to reveal the identities of the panelists who
determined the winners to grow and distribute cannabis products.

The Pa. Department of Health in June awarded 12 permits to grow and
process marijuana and 27 permits to distribute the medicines in a
process that many of the unsuccessful applicants criticized as
unnecessarily opaque.

A secret panel, comprised of about a dozen Pennsylvania state
employees, reviewed and scored hundreds of lengthy applications for
the potentially lucrative business permits, following a model
originally set by New Jersey. Other states have followed different
selection processes. Ohio, for example, hired an Atlanta-based
consultant to determine its winners, according to

The state medical marijuana law required the panelists to be kept
anonymous to avoid political meddling and any appearance of conflict
of interest.

The Office of Open Records (OOR) came to its decision on Thursday in
response to a PennLive reporter who had filed a formal request in May
for the panelists' names, job titles, and departments.

The Department of Health has 30-days to turn over the information or
file an appeal, said Erik Arneson, the executive director for the OOR.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said officials were
reviewing the decision and considering their options.

Health had argued against releasing the names. Arnesen said, because
under the state statute, the identities of the panelists were required
to remain confidential.

"Their second argument was that by revealing their identities, it
could be a security issue; that they could be subject to bribes and
threats," Arnesen said.

"On that second point, they didn't present any evidence."
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