420 with CNW – Missouri Lawmakers Probe Allegations of Bias in Marijuana Licensing Process

March 4, 2020 16:20:16

Missouri legislators still have questions about the alleged conflicts of interest in the new medical cannabis industry, irrespective of the testimony obtained from state regulators in the past few weeks.

At the beginning of February, the Missouri House’s government oversight committee started holding hearings to examine the rollout of the medical marijuana program after reports on scoring irregularities were spread across the state, and unsuccessful applicants filed hundreds of appeals.

The state’s medical marijuana czar, Lyndall Fraker, was questioned on a wide range of topics, such as why a private company was hired to rate the applications as well as how the state is going to handle the appeals of more than 800 applicants who were denied permits.

However, the lawmakers’ concern during the hearing was that the conflicts of interest could have tipped the scales to favor particular applicants.

The company which was hired to score the applicants, Wise Health Solutions, is at the bane of the allegations. The company is a joint venture between Veracious Investigative & Compliance Solutions and Oaksterdam University, which offers courses on marijuana.

Rep. Jared Taylor (R) said during a recent hearing that he has concerns that there were conflicts and that he finds it hard to believe that there was no conflict. He thinks it is something that should be investigated.

However, Fraker has stood his ground that there was no evidence of conflict of interest. He further noted that very few appeals contain any detail or proof irrespective of the large number of appeals submitted.

Fraker further said that they believe the attestation of Wise Health Solutions that there existed no conflict of interest.

And since the lawmakers still have questions lingering, this week, they will be questioning Randall Williams, the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services.

The constitutional amendment that approved the legalization of medical marijuana within the state complicates the state’s defense since it stipulates that information about the companies that won the licenses cannot be released. This stipulation is worrying the legislators that a lack of transparency on the companies could undermine the public confidence in the system or, worse, assume that they are covering for someone who manipulated the system during the scoring and awarding of the permits.

Jon Carpenter said that they need to be more transparent in the process to give the applicants peace of mind. Carpenter is a Democrat from the City of Kansas, and he serves on the government oversight committee.

Experts say that if the issues in Missouri aren’t quickly resolved, they could damage the image of state regulators before the industry, including players elsewhere like ChineseInvestors.com Inc. (OTCQB: CIIX), since the sector has grown on the promise of bringing opportunities to everyone in equal measure.

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