By: Kevin McKeon

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today announced the recipients of the first twenty-seven permits to dispense medical marijuana.  Recipients of the first twelve of twenty-five grower/processor permits were announced on June 20.

Distributed over six regions in Pennsylvania, DOH has awarded ten permits for the Philadelphia region, four for Southcentral Pennsylvania, five for the Pittsburgh region, and two each in the three regions across the State’s Northern Tier.  Comparing the number of applicants in each region to the permits allocated to each, approximately niney percent of applicants in each Region were disappointed in this first round of permit issuances.    DOH has authority to issue fifty dispensary permits in all; the remaining twenty-three permits are expected to be issued in a second round.

What to do if your application was denied?  Consult knowledgeable counsel at your earliest opportunity.  Under DOH regulations you have the right to an appeal that will result in a formal administrative hearing.   Disappointed applicants have ten days from the date of the denial to file their appeal.  DOH also offers a separate less formal “debriefing” process, if requested within thirty days of the date of denial.  This debriefing session is not, an extension to the appeal timeframe.  Although DOH regulations do not address the issue, there is nothing that prevents a disappointed applicant from pursuing both the debriefing session and an appeal.  There also may be a basis for going straight to court, depending on the circumstances of the individual applicant whose application is denied and the manner in which it appears DOH has made its permit awards.

The precarious position of an entity that does not preserve its appeal rights within ten days of an agency staff decision to the agency head has recently been demonstrated in SugarHouse HSP Gaming LP v Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, __ A.3d __ ( Pa. June 20, 2017).

Should you wish to consult with an appellate attorney in order to preserve your right to appeal, please contact Kevin McKeon at