What were those letters about?
So The Pulse took a look at the 7 letters of formal complaint about the applicants to run the state’s first medical marijuana retail stores. Here’s the run down.
Letters from attorney William Conley
Two letters were from the law offices of William J. Conley Jr. The first, sent on June 28th of this year, explains that Conley is not representing any of the applicants and his complaints are meant to protect the integrity of the review process.
He mentions a few concerns, all related to the Thomas C Slater’s application.
1. Should the applicants rely so heavily on a firm from California if state law requires directors and officers to be from Rhode Island?
2. Based on the Health Department’s guidelines, the Slater application exceeded the 25 page limit by over 45 pages.
3. The Slater application includes the name of someone who is a member of the Rhode Island Health Services Council. The letter says “the appearance of impropriety created by a member of the Health Services Council working for an applicant is troubling.”
The second letter, sent two days later, finds violations with many of the compassion center applications. In this case, “on behalf of individuals having an interest in the medical marijuana compassion center application process.”
Conley lists problems with-
1. Alternative Therapeutics -For relying on third party growers, not having control of the proposed site, having no letter from a zoning board, and offering no evidence of a capital commitment.
2. Ocean State Organics- For violating the state’s residency requirement.
3. Thomas C. Slater -For having a “dummy lease” on its property and exceeding the page limit.
4. Community Care Health and Wellness-For not having a letter from a zoning board.
5. University Compassion Center-For having no letter from a zoning board, and for no evidence of capital commitment.
6. Rhode Island Compassion Center- For no legally binding evidence of site control, and for no letter from a zoning board.
7. Rhode Island Institute for Medical Marijuana- For no letter from a zoning board.
I’ve put out a call to Conley to ask him about his observations and how he feels about The Health Department’s decision. More on that later.
Letters from David Hughes
David C. Hughes with the Community Health Care and Wellness, Inc. applicants also sent two letters. The first one, sent on June 14th of this year, names 7 applicants that have violated the 25 page limit-
Alternative Therapeutics, Green leaf Compassion Center, IDEM LLC, Rhode Island Compassion Center Inc., Rhode Island Institute for Medical Marijuana, Summit Medical Compassion Center Inc., and Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center.
Curiously, The Department of Health wrote Hughes back and denied his requests that the applications be disqualified. The letter notes that the page limit did not apply to attachments and writes
…the Department is not in the position and will not deny said application their right to a full and fair hearing process. In conclusion, we acknowledge your so-called formal protest but based on the foregoing, the Department elects to deny said request.
David Hughes responds on July 14th, noting that the Department’s Q &A section it says any business plans, zoning letters, or floor plans will count towards the 25 page limit and the applicants mentioned in the last letter tried to count those documents as attachments.
Letter from attorney Timothy More
Timothy T. More, a lawyer who says he represents Monohasset Mill and The Steel Yard, wrote only one letter. He was concerned only with the Thomas C. Slater application, which would be located right around the corner from his clients. He says Slater doesn’t meet the appropriate zoning requirements because it would be both cultivating and selling marijuana on the location. He says zoning code requires a special use permit for “pharmaceutical manufacturing.”
Letter from Jeffrey Taylor
Jeffrey M. Taylor identifies himself as a member of the Breakwater Herbal Compassion Center team. In his September 1st letter, he says Ocean State Organics lists non residents in its application and Alternative Therapeutics relies on third party growers and has no proof of official financial commitment to run the compassion center.
Letter from Bob D’uva
Bob D’uva, the President of the Federal Hill Commerce Association, also writes a letter citing legal reasons why the Thomas C. Slater application should be disqualified. Among his reasons- no clear financial commitment, and no legally binding lease on its proposed location.
So, what does all of this mean? It seems people who had personal opposition to particular compassion centers (either because they were competitors or were located in their neighborhoods) found legal reasons why they should be disqualified.
But the letters do a good job of documenting how each applicant violated the Department of Health’s own regulations, most of them are spot on.
What do you think about the letters? Do they offer proof that the DOH should have disqualified the applications? Or something else?