2 court rulings block company seeking to grow medical pot in Kankakee

SHARE 2 court rulings block company seeking to grow medical pot in Kankakee

Medical marijuana plant. | AP file photo

Two court rulings issued Thursday allow a temporary restraining order to remain in place blocking the state from issuing a permit to a company that seeks to grow medical marijuana in Kankakee.

The freeze in issuing the growing license to Cresco Labs was put in place after a competing company, PM Rx — which sought the same license but was passed over — filed a lawsuit claiming the state didn’t follow its own licensing guidelines and it questioned a deal Cresco made with the city of Kankakee.

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PM Rx CEO Andrew James hailed the decisions as a step toward transparency in what has been a secret process.

He said his attorney, John Rooks, will seek to inspect the applications, which are considered confidential, of those who wanted to grow medical marijuana in the Kankakee area.

PM Rx will seek to depose former Gov. Pat Quinn, former Agriculture Director Bob Flider and the medical marijuana program’s czar, Bob Morgan, among others, “To better understand who influenced this process, how they influenced it, and why,” James said.

The rulings issued Thursday from both the Illinois First District Court of Appeals and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy denied attempts by Cresco and the state’s Department of Agriculture to dissolve the temporary restraining order in place that is holding up the licensing process for Cresco Labs.

Cresco Labs President Joe Caltabiano said in a statement that the company was disappointed by the judicial decision and called its rival’s claims “baseless.”

“We stand behind this program and the state’s handling of this application process,” Caltabiano said. “During these proceedings, the state has confirmed through sworn affidavits that Cresco has met all financial requirements; passed all federal and state background checks; and that our agreement with Kankakee is absolutely compliant with” the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

But James, of PM Rx, was pleased.

“Despite efforts by the state to keep this shrouded in secrecy and cover up a process that both our current and former governor say was flawed, we are one step closer to lifting that veil, thanks to today’s rulings,” he said.

White Oak Growers, another competitor that lost out to Cresco and is now suing Cresco and the Department of Agriculture, dropped its request for a similar restraining order earlier this week.

Last week, the state printed and handed out permits to the companies it chose to grow medical marijuana. In PM Rx’s case, the restraining order was granted before the permits were handed out.

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