Parties wrapped up in litigation surrounding proposed marijuana businesses in Port Huron have said it would take months or years to reach a resolution in court, but a new 2022 trial date is giving the saga its first concrete window to hash things out.
Final pre-trial and jury trial dates have been set for June 2 and 14, respectively, in the first marijuana-related lawsuit filed against the city.
The entity, 1864 US-23, LLC, launched its complaint in February this year, contesting how the city awarded provisional licenses for medical and adult-use cannabis businesses.
Three other applicants — Farm Science, JARS Holdings, and BRT Capital 3 — followed suit last spring.
As of Friday, no other court dates in any of those lawsuits had been set. In the past, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Cynthia Lane has heard motion hearings related to the suits at the same time, and she formally paused awarding any licenses last May.
Al Francis, the city’s attorney, said he expected common issues to continue to be played out together, and that depending on the judge, multiple issues could be worked out before June.
“The scoring disputes, the entities that said, ‘We should have gotten 100 points, and you gave us 95,’ those may play out separately,” he said this week.
Each applicant has objected to different areas of how the city scored their applications; however, the city has maintained it followed the process under the outside ordinance approved by voters in November 2020.
That outside group, Progress for Michigan 2020, also successfully put another marijuana proposal before voters in August.
Approved once again in an election, this one was designed to accelerate medical marijuana licensure — entitles already licensed for those facilities are largely first in line to get recreational license approval from the state — and to avoid delaying the opening of pot shops with time-consuming litigation.
However, because the second ballot measure repealed the scoring process already being challenged in court, the city filed its own lawsuit after the August election, alleging it violated those marijuana applicants’ right to due process.
There are 15 defendants listed in the city’s complaint. Progress for Michigan filed as an intervening party, as it has in the other marijuana lawsuits this year.
Lane issued an injunction on the August measure days after the election. Francis said it was “still pending,” as they await a decision from the judge on whether the last vote is enforceable, and if so, to what extent.
“If she makes that decision, it might eliminate a lot of the questions in the other cases,” he said.
At least one issue lodged by applicants has been resolved. In mid-October, Lane dismissed claims that the city’s process to issue licenses in early 2021 violated the Open Meetings Act.
Other claims have included those specific to sites proposed to host marijuana businesses, as well as the consistency related to what kinds of licenses to be held by the same entities. Provisional licensees range from dispensaries and provisioning centers to microbusinesses, grow operations, and designated consumption lounges.
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.