An expectation of transparency
Despite a state Office of Open Records ruling in August, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is appealing an order to divulge the identities of panelists who evaluated hundreds of applications for state medical marijuana permits. Doing so supposedly would put these state employees at risk for harassment, we're told. And besides, “best practices” from other states support secrecy, according to the department. Since when is public transparency not a “best practice” in a matter that directly involves public resources? We're talking about a panel whose members waded through 280 applications for dispensary permits and 177 applications for grower/processor permits, ultimately selecting 27 dispensaries and 12 growers. The applicants paid thousands of dollars in nonrefundable application fees plus permit fees. The public deserves to know that all marijuana-permit decisions were made free of any potential conflicts. Transparency should have been the expectation, and not the exception, before the panelists were selected.