The City of West Hollywood today released a statement in response to a petition filed in LA Superior Court by Farmacy Collective (MedMen) last week that seeks to overturn its process for selecting those who qualify for recreational cannabis sales licenses.
“The City of West Hollywood is disappointed by the Superior Court petition it received late last week, Farmacy Collective v. The City of West Hollywood, asking that the court rescind the scores of all adult-use cannabis retail license applications and redo the screening process with a newly appointed evaluation panel,” says the statement. “West Hollywood’s adult-use cannabis license screening process was thorough, extraordinarily fair, and one that is being modeled by other communities in the State of California. All applicants were given a fair and equal opportunity to participate in the process and present the merits of their business proposals to a balanced and independent scoring committee. The scoring process resulted in the merit-based selection of a diverse array of exciting and unique cannabis businesses for West Hollywood and the city is dismayed by the petition’s allegation of unfairness with the licensing process.”
In a petition filed last week, Farmacy Collective, the local entity through which MedMen operates in West Hollywood, asked that the court halt any action required to complete the application process for the winners of the eight recreational cannabis licenses, who still must obtain state cannabis licenses and local business licenses. It also asked that the court order the City of West Hollywood to dismiss the independent panel chosen to evaluate the applications and appoint a new one. And it asked that the evaluation panel be required to give priority in its assessments to the four existing cannabis businesses, none of which qualified in the application process for permanent recreational sales licenses. MedMen argues that giving priority to existing businesses was the intent of some of those who crafted the 2016 voter initiative to legalize cannabis in California known as Prop 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
The request, if granted, would have a major impact on the eight winners of recreational cannabis licenses, who have been securing retail space, hiring designers for those spaces and applying for the state and local business licenses. They include Aeon West Hollywood Inc., the Artist Tree LLC (The Artist Tree), Calma Weho LLC (Calma), Essence Weho LLC (Essence), J&P Consulting (Budberry), PDLP JV LLC (Greenwolf West Hollywood), Pleasure Med LLC (Pleasure Med), and Redwood Retail LLC (Lord Jones). Several prominent local residents and business people are associated with those winners. For example, Jason Illoulian of Faring, the real estate developer, is a partner in Calma. Soheil Yamini, the owner of Pink Dot on Sunset, is one of the owners of Greenwolf. And Brian Robinson, owner of the Pleasure Chest, is also the owner of Pleasure Med.
In its petition, MedMen not only criticized the city for failing to give any priority in the assessment to the existing cannabis business, but it also alleged bias on the part of Lynne Lyman, one of the five people who ranked the applicants. Lyman is the former California State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, whose mission is to advance policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition. The Drug Policy Alliance was one of the co-authors of Proposition 64. The petition says that Lyman, while working with Drug Policy Alliance, had had a falling out with MedMen.