GV Wire reports
Fresno city officials expected litigation from retail cannabis hopefuls who were not picked for a license. It has now become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Two more lawsuits have been filed at Fresno County Superior Court in the last few weeks. That brings the total to four, with more possible.
Catalyst, a standard applicant, says its competitors aren’t really locally owned and should be disqualified.
SKG Trinity, a social equity applicant, says that the scoring process was vague and didn’t properly vet some of the applicants.
Catalyst Says Some Applicants Are ‘Fake’
By September, the Fresno city manager’s office awarded three licenses in every city council district based on scoring from the application and an interview — 21 in total. After a city council appeal process in October, four remained up for grabs, one in District 1 covering west Fresno.
Catalyst, a southern California-based cannabis operator, was passed over for a license in District 1. In a lawsuit filed Nov. 30, it says those picked above it were not qualified.
“Catalyst submits it should have been selected for preliminary approval for a Permit, and that several applicants selected ahead of it in final rankings … legally are/were not qualified for preliminary approval, should not have obtain preliminary approval, and/or should have their applications denied for providing false information,” the lawsuit states.
Specifically, Catalyst accused the local owners of two shops that received preliminary approval — Kacey Auston of Lemonnade and Lawrence Artenian of The Artist Tree — as being “fake local ‘front men’ and not really owners.” Applicants received more points for being local.
Catalyst makes a similar argument for another District 1 applicant, Authentic. The lawsuit argues that former MLB pitcher and Fresnan Matthew Garza isn’t truly an owner of Authentic.
Catalyst’s argues those three retailers should be disqualified for providing false information, paving the way for an available license.
The marijuana dealer said it had no avenue to express its concerns because city rules precluded it from filing an appeal or even contacting a city councilmember.
The lawsuit asks the court to revoke the preliminary license for Lemonnade and grant a license to Catalyst.
The lawsuit has not received a court date.