By PHILIP MARCELO
August 27, 2014 12:00 AM
&byline;and AUDITI GUHA
BOSTON — A company that wanted to open one of Massachusetts’ first medical marijuana dispensaries in Fairhaven wants a judge to overturn the state’s decision to reject its application.
In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in Boston on Tuesday, Brighton Health Advocates argues that the state’s June 27 decision was not based on substantial evidence and should be voided.
Brighton, doing business as Compassionate Care Clinics, proposed a marijuana facility in Fairhaven and had been among 20 applicants given preliminary approval in January to open a dispensary.
In June, state regulators announced they had narrowed the list of applicants to 11 following additional reviews.
Many of those are now preparing to open their dispensaries; some hope to open by the end of the year or early 2015.
Brighton Health Advocates accuses the state Department of Public Health of making “increasingly onerous demands for information to search for a pretext” to ultimately reject its application.
The suit also alleges that the DPH’s June 27 decision was “an abuse of discretion, was arbitrary and capricious (and) was not based on substantial evidence.”
“We feel that the complaint speaks for itself,” said Ernie Corrigan, spokesman for Compassionate Care.
Fairhaven Selectman Charles Murphy said he was not surprised to hear about the suit. He said Compassionate Care’s president Shelley Stormo “was very clear they were going to follow the process and informed us they were going to take it to Superior Court.” Compassionate Care had already appealed to the state.
“They felt they had the right application and certainly followed through with the town so I hope they get justice,” Murphy said.
Compassionate Care had received approval from selectmen and leased space at 2 Pequot Road before DPH rejected its application. On Aug. 18, Fairhaven selectmen endorsed an application from another company, Coastal Compassion, to open a medical marijuana dispensary in town.
Coastal Compassion expects to learn from the state if its application is successful sometime in October, its president, Tim Keogh of Mattapoisett, has said.
The state DPH, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Brighton’s lawsuit, said in its June letter that the nonprofit proposed a corporate structure that appeared to violate state regulations.
The company had initially proposed paying a for-profit management company to handle some major tasks, including leasing and preparing a building space for the dispensary, acquiring the necessary permits and training employees.
The management company would have received 20 percent of the dispensary’s monthly gross revenue, among other payments. It also would have been headed by the same executive team that heads the nonprofit.
After the department’s inquiries, Brighton Health Advocates told state officials it had terminated the management arrangement.
Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law, which took effect in January 2013, allows for up to 35 state-licensed dispensaries authorized to grow and sell marijuana to qualified patients for the treatment of cancer, glaucoma, and other ailments.
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