Health department must review medical marijuana application redactions, says open records office

Health department must review medical marijuana application redactions, says open records office

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The state Department of Health must conduct a more thorough review of unredacted applications for medical marijuana permits and provide legal justification for each redaction, according to a ruling by the Office of Open Records. (HARRY FISHER / THE MORNING CALL) The state Department of Health must conduct a more thorough review of applications for medical marijuana permits and provide legal justification for all information concealed from the public, according to a ruling by the Office of Open Records. The open records office found that the health department failed to conduct a “good faith effort” under the Right-to-Know Law in determining if applicants’ self-redactions on publicly released applications were legally exempt from disclosure. The open records office gave the health department until Sept. 20 to provide an estimate of how long it will take to review approximately 300,000 pages worth of applications. The open records office will review the estimate and set a final deadline for the department. The order was in response to an appeal by a Reading Eagle reporter who challenged the scope of some applicants’ self-redactions. The open records office is reviewing a similar appeal filed by The Morning Call. The health department received more than 450 applications this spring for medical marijuana grower/processor and dispensary permits. A secretive review panel evaluated unredacted applications, but the health department allowed applicants to redact their own publicly released applications. While the self-redactions were supposed to be in accordance with department regulations and the open records law, the health department did not bother checking those redactions to ensure they were legal. Rather, it added more redactions where necessary. The department argued that applicants were in the best position to identify information considered confidential and proprietary. But the scope of applicant redactions varied widely. One redacted the health department’s application […]

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