New lawsuit could put Fresno cannabis companies on hold

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FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) – A new lawsuit could halt the licensing process for Fresno’s cannabis business just as it hits the finish line.

The city has issued 17 cannabis retail permits but denied dozen more.

At least three rejected applicants are now in legal dispute with the city.

Perfect Union planned to convert a former children’s dance studio on the Minarets near Blackstone Avenue into a cannabis retail store.

It was one of nearly 100 license applicants from the City of Fresno.

When the city administrator’s office reduced that number to 21, Perfect Union was omitted.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Perfect Union claims the process is far from perfect.

They say the city wrongly rated applications and failed to elaborate on how they assigned numbers or grades to each criterion.

They also had no opportunity to appeal the decision.

“Did you give due process?” legal analyst Tony Capozzi wondered. “Was this process transparent? How did the city decide to assign the numbers for each of the qualifications? “

A city spokesman said there was no comment on the pending litigation.

The city’s website has a long list of criteria for commercial cannabis business permits.

City manager Tommy Esqueda said it was inevitable that complaints would come in after so many rejections.

“If these permits are this valuable – they are worth millions of dollars to those who have applied and those who will receive the permit – yes, I think that would be to be expected,” Capozzi said. “If someone doesn’t get approval, they’ll be looking for some issues as this was found.”

Applicants said the evaluation process was vague, opaque, and ripe for preference.

They asked a judge to order the city to permit them or to cease licensing altogether, and they asked him to do it in a hurry because the city is almost ready and stores may be opening soon.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says that is asking a lot.

“They have to climb a steep hill, but they have an argument,” said Capozzi.

The city has four licenses left after city councilors rejected four of the original licenses.

The judge’s decision could be made on Wednesday.

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