Statements were heard during a virtual hearing Wednesday by a Cole County Circuit Court judge in Jefferson City regarding whether a temporary restraining order sought by Sarcoxie Nursery Cultivation Facility LLC is applicable in the ongoing issue of medical marijuana licenses in Missouri.
Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce could make a determination on the motion as early as Thursday. Retired Joplin cardiologist Paul Callicoat, his family, as well as GVMS Inc. and Missouri Medical, are seeking the temporary restraining order against the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which they contend has not been transparent and violated the state constitution by limiting the number of awarded licenses.
Joseph Bednar, an attorney representing Sarcoxie Nursery, said a temporary restraining order would prevent the the department and two of its top officials — Randall Williams, department director, and Lyndall Fraker, director the department’s Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation — from granting any changes to medical marijuana facility licenses. That includes cultivation, manufacturing, infusion and dispensary licenses.
Because the department limited the number of licenses issued to each of those categories, the plaintiffs say that it violated the state constitution. Bednar said the department has been modifying the rules for licensees who want to change their applications, which is unfair to the applicants who were denied licenses.
Bednar said the issue is how the licenses were granted was unfair and that there are more than 800 applicant appeals at the Administrative Hearing Commission.
“What’s most important to the plaintiffs is that patients have access to the medical marijuana that their doctors have certified them to receive,” Bednar said. “Under our scenario, you’d have a free marketplace, everyone would have licenses and they would succeed or fail based on the marketplace, not based on an artificial, arbitrary, capricious limitation the department has come up with.”
Ross Kaplan, assistant attorney general and co-counsel to the defendants, argued that those involved have a case before the Administrative Hearing Commission and that he believes the motion should be dismissed.
“In his first three requests for relief, he’s asking nonidentified or identified parties be prevented from doing something,” he said. “He keeps saying they’re not here to inhibit the marketplace, but that’s exactly what he’s asking you to do.“
Kaplan said Bednar is essentially asking the court to step in the shoes of the Department of Health and Senior Services and tell it how to operate.