News: In the News

Controversy Around Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Permits

Offit Kurman Attorney Joe Kelly Interviewed by 6ABC

So we're investigating exactly how the state picked the winners and the losers.


Pennsylvania Cannabis Advocate Geoff Whaling, of Bunker Botanicals, is one of 177 applicants who paid $10,000 a piece - for an overall total of $1.77 million to the state - for a shot at earning a massive money-making marijuana grow license.

"It is probably a million dollars a month that we would be generating out of this facility," Whaling said.

Bunker Botanicals includes all-Pennsylvania engineers, investors, and board members, but failed to get the thumbs up to grow in their underground facility.

Former Flyers Forward Riley Cote is a board member.

"There's always concern for, I don't know if ethics is the right word, but, you know, some shady business going on," Cote said.

Companies like Bunker can appeal the decision amid concerns about how permits were doled out. It's big money, and some companies shelled out upwards of $60,000 for a piece of the marijuana pie.

The reason Pennsylvania is potentially such a gold mine for marijuana growers is the state has approved medicinal use for 17 qualifying disorders. That is significantly more than any other state.

But what's concerning, according to Attorney Joe Kelley, is how the applicants were scored, and whether the process was potentially tainted.

"I think there is a lot of concern out there that there is a lot of behind the scenes politicking with this stuff," he said.

For example: the Chairman of Berks County's Franklin Labs - which obtained one of the licenses - is Governor Tom Wolf's former Secretary of Policy and Planning, John Hanger.

Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania, another entity approved for a permit, lists Chase Lenfest, son of philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, as a principal and financial backer.

Click here to read the full article on

ABOUT JOSEPH KELLEY | 267-338-1368

For 20 years Mr. Kelley has focused his practice on health care and privacy.  He chairs Offit Kurman’s Privacy and Data Protection Practice Group and helped to found the firm’s Health Care Practice Group.  He counsels clients on all health, privacy and security, technology, and cannabis industries and serves as general counsel to businesses in the health care, cybersecurity, and medical cannabis sectors.



Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 135 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eleven offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.

You can connect with Offit Kurman via our Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn pages. You can also sign up to receive Law Matters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.