Judge rejects restraining order in medical marijuana lawsuit
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge on Thursday denied a request for a temporary restraining order against the state that was sought by a southwestern Missouri family who was denied a license to grow medical marijuana.
Paul Callicoat and his family sued the the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services after their application for a license was among hundreds that the agency denied. They planned to convert their 70-acre property in Sarcoxie into a cultivation site.
Their lawsuit argued that the state’s decision to cap the number of licenses at 60 violated a right-to-farm amendment in the Missouri Constitution. During a hearing on Monday, the family’s lawyer, Joseph Bednar, argued that the state should allow the market to decide which marijuana cultivation businesses survive.
Bednar also criticized “geographical bonuses” that the state used to determine who received the licenses. The bonuses favor applicants from high unemployment zip codes.
The state’s attorney, Ross Kaplan, said during the hearing that the approval of licenses last week followed the law’s minimum requirement to issue 60 licenses. He said the regulations of the medical marijuana industry are meant to protect the public, not licensees, The Columbia Missourian reported.
Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the Callicoats had not established at this stage of the legal proceedings that they suffered irreparable injury. He said in his order that the issues of whether the regulations impede access to medical marijuana or violated the “right to farm” merit further review.
The Callicoats said in a statement that they were gratified that Beetem thought those issues merited further review and are “concentrating on proceeding with litigation.”
Missouri voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018. More than 500 companies applied to grow the drug for the state’s new industry.
The Department of Health and Senior Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.