Attorney George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On April 20, 2018, a Pennsylvania court agreed that a company that lost out on a potentially profitable cannabis dispensary permit needed to exhaust administrative remedies before it could file suit. The suit would challenge the constitutionality of the application process for the state’s new medical marijuana program.

A court panel rejected arguments from Keystone ReLeaf LLC (Keystone), which has asked that all medical marijuana permits issued by the state’s Department of Health (DOH) be revoked. Keystone claims that the administrative appeals process did not offer an adequate remedy for the denial of its application.

Keystone’s lawsuit accused the DOH, along with its new Office of Medical Marijuana, of engaging in an inequitable and unconstitutional permitting process. Additionally, Keystone claims the DOH failed to explain how it scored the applications.

The company was one of 450 to submit applications to the DOH as the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act took effect under a set of temporary regulations in 2017. There were 12 growing and processing permits and 27 dispensary permits issued through the initial application process.

In response, the DOH filed preliminary objections to the lawsuit seeking dismissal based on Keystone’s failure to complete the appeals process.

The court stated that challenges to the constitutionality of permitting programs typically did not require the exhaustion of administrative remedies. However, Keystone’s lawsuit dealt with how the department was applying the act and regulations governing its implementation. Additionally, where Keystone claimed it did not have an adequate administrative remedy available, the court determined the process needed to be completed before any court could make such a judgment.

To read the court’s opinion on this case, click here.

To stay on top of medical marijuana policy, click here to read one of my prior blogs and check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at


Fair, Matt. “Pa. Court Won’t Derail State’s Medical Marijuana Program.” Law360. (April 20, 2018). Web.

Miller, Matt. “Jilted medical marijuana permit applicant’s ‘premature’ appeal to Pa. court goes up in smoke.” PennLive. (April 21, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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