Court delays HCKC license denial related to Independence ordinances

Court delays HCKC license denial related to Independence ordinances

A temporary restraining order against DHSS was granted late Friday by Cole County Judge Jon Beetem regarding a case challenging an Independence zoning ordinance. The order prevents DHSS from awarding or denying HCKC a dispensary license based on the zoning at least until after a January 27 review.

A Southwest Missouri publication published a story saying all dispensary licenses would be delayed. That is not true.

The TRO is narrow, allowing DHSS to award a license to HCKC if it wants.  The Department can deny a license to HCKC, provided the denial is not premised on the allegedly unconstitutional ordinance provision as the original complaint claims.  If HCKC otherwise satisfies minimum standards but is not top ranking, DHSS would have to give them conditional denial status, rather than disqualifying them.

Read the case filings below. This is one of several suits and appeals filed from the facility licensure process.

MOTION

RESPONSE

TRO

From MoCannTrade Outside General Counsel – Eric Walter: 

”On Thursday (January 16, 2020) afternoon, Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green issued a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit filed by HCKC, LLC, which applied for a dispensary license in the City of Independence,” MoCannTrade outside general counsel Eric Walter said.  “The TRO has virtually no impact on DHSS’s ability to issue dispensary licenses on January 24, 2020.  In fact, Judge Green did not direct DHSS to refrain from issuing any dispensary licenses.  The TRO only orders DHSS to temporarily refrain from denying a dispensary license to HCKC, LLC, and only if the denial is based on a particular provision in the City of Independence’s ordinance (Ordinance No. 19023, Section 14-421-02(c)).

“HCKC, LLC’s lawsuit is primarily a challenge to the constitutionality of the City of Independence’s ordinance provision requiring dispensaries to be at least 500 feet from any residential district or residential dwelling.  HCKC, LLC argues that this provision imposes an undue burden on prospective dispensary licensees and therefore violates Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution (Amendment 2).  Because HCKC, LLC’s proposed site does not comply with that (allegedly unconstitutional) aspect of Independence’s ordinance, HCKC, LLC believes DHSS may conclude that its dispensary application does not meet the minimum standards and must be denied, irrespective of its score. 

”HCKC, LLC has asked the Court to order DHSS to disregard that allegedly unconstitutional provision in Independence’s ordinance when deciding on HCKC, LLC’s dispensary application.  HCKC, LLC also requests an order directing Independence to not utilize that provision in its ordinance.  The TRO does not include any of that relief.  Instead, it merely directs DHSS to refrain from making a decision on that HCKC, LLC’s dispensary application in Independence until at least January 27, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., if the denial would be on the basis of the ordinance.  Nothing in the TRO prevents DHSS from denying HCKC, LLC’s license for other reasons, e.g., it’s score placed it outside the top 24 in that congressional district.”

This story will continue to be updated online at Greenway here.