On Aug. 31, 2017, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ordered the state health department to reveal the names of members belonging to a secret medical marijuana panel that scored the applications of prospective medical marijuana licensees.
The order stems from an incident in May where PennLive filed a Right-to-Know request to reveal the names, job titles and departments of the members of the secret medical marijuana panel. The Department of Health denied the request, citing a rule that applicants may not obtain information related to persons scoring the application.
Although no employees of PennLive have plans to apply for a medical marijuana license, the department argued that they may in the future. OOR Chief Counsel Charles Rees Brown slammed the department’s interpretation of the rule and said that it would “produce a result that is absurd and impossible to execute.”
Brown went on to say that the makeup of the panel should not be deemed confidential and that the department’s sole witness, John Collins, director of the state Office of Medical Marijuana, was “too conclusory and speculative to support the claimed exemption.”
Under Pennsylvania state law, the department has 30 days to appeal the decision or hand over the requested information.