Ex-Big Law Partners Face Federal Court Fight Over Marijuana Startup – Law.com
A medical marijuana dispensary started by two former Big Law partners has hit a bump in its pursuit of a Pennsylvania facility, and the ability to open it may rely on federal courts.
PharmaCann, which was founded by former Polsinelli partners Teddy Scott and John Leja, has found itself caught up in litigation over opening its business in a Philadelphia shopping complex. Scott is still the CEO of PharmaCann, and former Polsinelli lawyer Jeremy Unruh is its general counsel.
After receiving licenses to operate cannabis dispensaries in Illinois and New York, PharmaCann pursued and won a license to operate a Pennsylvania facility in Philadelphia, at a former Chi-Chi’s restaurant. But the shopping complex owner that sold the property to Chi-Chi’s in 1991 has said it’s illegal to open a marijuana dispensary there.
Pennsylvania licensees are required to be fully operational by January of next year, so PharmaCann sought an order from Pennsylvania courts to push the sale through.
PharmaCann filed suit last month in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against the developers and property owners involved in the Philadelphia Mills shopping complex, including Franklin Mills and Simon Property Group, seeking declaratory relief. Franklin Mills and Simon have now sought to remove the case to federal court.
Pennsylvania lawmakers have passed legislation allowing medical marijuana in the state, under strict regulations. But marijuana is not legal under federal law, even for medical purposes.
According to PharmaCann’s complaint, when Franklin Mills sold the property to Chi-Chi’s in 1991, it was subject to certain deed restrictions. When PharmaCann sought to take over the space, Franklin Mills got the right of first refusal to repurchase but