Medical marijuana applicants must start over

Providence, R.I. – After months of reviewing 15 applications for running Rhode Island's first medical marijuana retail stores, the Department of Health is throwing them all out and starting over.

Health officials say the applications either failed to meet technical requirements or didn't meet minimum scoring requirements.

Health Department Director Dr. David Gifford says he received eight formal complaints from lawyers representing some of the medical marijuana store applicants. That's when he realized there was a problem.

"Some of them were technical complaints and the review committee was scoring them on content and so we had to look at the technical side of it and we had to go and relook at it and yeah, some of them we missed the first time through," Gifford says.

Chris Reilly represents the Thomas C Slater Compassion Center applicants. His group was never contacted about the content of those letters, Reilly says.

"I would think that if they were legitimate concerns that were voiced to the department, an applicant would be asked or at least have an opportunity to respond and that never happened and the whole process seems a little odd, it doesn't seem right to us," Reilly says.

Reilley is calling on the health department to make those eight letters of complaint public. Dr. Gifford did not give the names of who sent the letters.

The health department plans to request new applications in early October. Dr. Gifford says it's unlikely any applicant will be selected by the end of the year.