JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The director of the Missouri health department’s medical marijuana program has refuted claims of “scoring irregularities” made by an industry association last week.
Lyndall Fraker, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services’ (DHSS) medical marijuana regulation section, said he believes the scoring — including on a section pertaining to marketing plans — was done “in a way that is both highly professionally competent and legally valid.”
Last week, the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association’s (MoCannTrade) executive director, Andrew Mullins, pointed to what he alleged as inconsistencies with the scoring of a question regarding marketing plans after DHSS issued cultivation licenses to 60 facilities. He said 67 percent of 577 applications received no points for the question.
But Fraker said Friday that the independent scorers utilized by the department would deem a marketing plan as having failed to meet minimum qualifications if it did not “sufficiently address its costs.”
“Accordingly, an applicant that failed to sufficiently address the subject of costs, as applicants were asked to do, likely would have received a zero on that question,” Fraker said. “The scorer would not have confidence in a plan’s ability to fulfill its claims if costs were not sufficiently addressed. This same professional judgment was applied consistently across all cultivation applications.”
MoCannTrade had noted 25 percent of applications scored a 10 on the question — the highest mark possible — whereas 6 percent of applicants scored four points, and 3 percent received seven points.
“While this question alone potentially only impacts a handful of applicants that just barely missed out on a cultivation license, a failure to review and explain this situation could erode confidence in DHSS and the scoring system by many. That’s obviously the last thing we want to see happen,” Mullins said in the letter.
Fraker noted the department does not plan to respond to specific inquiries regarding scoring details or applicants because of pending and anticipated litigation. However, the department released Friday’s letter “in the interest of transparency.”
“[W]e will not be responding to applicant-specific inquiries. In addition to that, we do not anticipate providing this type of information again in regards to any other general scoring inquiries,” Fraker said.
Using a third-party blind scoring system, DHSS announced the approval of 60 cultivation facilities out of more than 500 applicants in late December.
Read Fraker’s full response below.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.