Cannabis · Fresno

Fresno faces new legal hurdles over pot shop licensing

A retail cannabis dispensary that did not make the cut in Fresno’s the awarding of preliminary licenses is suing the city to halt the process altogether. 

Perfect Union, the dispensary that placed fourth in District 6 in the city’s scoring process, is asking Fresno Superior Court Judge Mark Cullers prevent the city from finalizing cannabis operations. 

Perfect Union was scheduled to appear in front of Cullers on Wednesday to ask the judge to order a stay on the process, halting all permits, until a ruling is issued in the lawsuit. 

But the hearing was taken off the calendar for Wednesday, instead pushing it back to Jan. 12. 

It is unknown when Fresno’s Office of Cannabis Oversight will re-award the four licenses that were appealed in October and give all 21 dispensaries final approval. 

In its complaint, Perfect Union argued that the licenses should not be finalized because the city allegedly did not score its application fairly. 

The dispensary submitted an application last December to operate a retail dispensary at 45 E. Minarets Ave., which is located north of Herndon Ave. and east of Blackstone Ave. 

But the city ultimately denied Perfect Union’s application in September due to its score of 72.34 percent placing lower than three other applicants. 

The low score, Perfect Union argues, is because certain criteria was not specified as necessary by the city. 

“Upon review of Perfect Union’s Score Sheet, it became evident that Perfect Union was scored unfairly and that its score was based on criteria, information, and materials that were not specified or otherwise disclosed in the Application Procedures and Guidelines,” the lawsuit reads. 

One such omission came when Perfect Union’s owners submitted their resumes with the application. 

The dispensary was only awarded 22 of a possible 30 points because the city said the resumes did not list that the owners hold high school degrees, bachelor’s degrees and/or master’s degrees, which would have raised the total score. 

In the lawsuit, Perfect Union argues that the city is incorrect, claiming that the resumes did in fact note the owners’ educational history.

“This demonstrates that not only are Respondents (the city) not disclosing their true requirements, but Respondents also failed to properly review Perfect Union’s Application,” the lawsuit reads. “In any event, at no point during the application process did the City inform Perfect Union of this alleged deficiency in its application, ask for more information with regard to this criterion, or provide Perfect Union with an opportunity to amend or cure this purported deficiency.”

The city also gave Perfect Union lower scores in the social equity support and living wage sections.

Perfect Union argues that the city did not properly define those sections in the application, thus resulting in the lower score.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.