Lindy Snider was probably the best known of the applicants for Pennsylvania’s tiny pool of medical marijuana grow licenses. She had name recognition – as daughter of late Flyers owner Ed Snider – not to mention a team that included lobbyists and a PR firm. She even had a commitment for a sprawling industrial site in Northeast Philadelphia.
But she, along with a number of other deep-pocketed applicants vying for an edge in the state licensing process, wound up on the wrong side of the scrum that culminated with today’s announcement of license winners.
Ultimately, two grow licenses allocated to southeastern PA went to obscure firms – albeit one of which had a tie to former DEP Secretary John Hanger – and both were for sites in Berks County.
“We are disappointed by the Department of Health’s decision not to award a license to Snider Health in this round,” said Snider spokesperson Kevin Feeley, in a prepared statement. “We will continue to pursue a license for a Philadelphia grower/processor facility.”
Some applicants told City&State in private that they had spent more than a million dollars on application efforts Other aspirants went as far as preemptively pulling zoning permits.
But to PA Sen. Daylin Leach, who helped craft the state’s medical marijuana legislation, the system worked.
“Any objective observer would say the process was fair,” he said. “The wealthiest people did not get all the licenses...Even letters from state legislators were thrown away.”
Leach said state officials were “agnostic” about applicants’ identity, relying only on a complex scoring mechanism. The scorecards have already been made public online, showing how many of the top 12 licensees had narrowly edged out their competition.
Leach encouraged miffed applicants to reapply for the next batch of grow licenses.
“Many of the top-tier applicants were close. But there will be a second round,” he said. “The second round hasn’t been announced yet, but it could happen in the next six months.”
Additionally, a separate announcement for 27 dispensary licenses is due next week.
Not everyone was quite as pleased as Leach.
“I’m disappointed,” said Philadelphia Councilman Derek Green. “The fact that Berks received two grow licenses was very surprising. No other county received two licenses.”
Green, who spoke to City&State PA in April about his concerns that the city would be shut out of the application process, said a grow facility could have been a boon for low-income neighborhoods.
“We have the highest level of poverty of any big city in the nation. This was an economic development opportunity for the city of Philadelphia,” he said.
Philadelphia state Rep. Jordan Harris, who chairs the PA Legislative Black Caucus, also spoke with City&State PA in April. But he was mostly pleased with the outcome of the application process.
“I would like to see a grower/processor in Philadelphia County,” he said. “But I’ve been talking for awhile about ensuring people of color are included in this process and I was very pleased to see there are at least three firms that have a majority or very high percentage of people of color in their business who were selected.”