As one of only two states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, Colorado now finds itself in the interesting position of managing the start up of its own medical marijuana dispensary, which will be the first in the state. Currently in the running is Tom Carper, who is aiming to be at the helm of the planned dispensary. Officials of the state are presently keeping mum on the negotiations while a scheduled hearing will decide who eventually nets the dispensary deal.

There are other parties interested in assuming the role of head of Denver’s first dispensary. In May of 2014, The First State Compassion Center headed by Mark Lally was informed that they had the highest bid for the medical marijuana outfit. Although the announcement came in the wake of a request made by The Associated Press citing the Freedom of Information Act, officials remained hesitant to release further details about the negotiations. A spokesperson for Governor Jack Markell had in fact said that no “further comment(s)” would be made while the Department of Health and Social Services was still negotiating the deal.

Other parties supported the policy, most notably Dr. Karyl Rattay who emphasized the importance of keeping the details of the ongoing transactions under wraps for the time being. A former state trooper who at one time served in the executive protection unit of the governor and who became the Sussex County director, Lally himself was unavailable for comment on the issue, although his lawyer Timothy Holly said that court documents associated with the case are “confidential” under state mandate.

There has been criticism levied against those seeking for transparency in the negotiations. Holly is especially critical of A. Judson Bennett, a former councilor who is currently engaged in legal proceedings versus Lally. According to Holly, Bennett is attempting to “derail the negotiation process” by forcing the participants to reveal the details of the case.

For his part, Bennett claimed that Lally was in breach of an agreement, in which Bennett was to obtain the license to operate the planned dispensary. He also said that Lally had secretly been involved in a deal with Sigal Consulting in order to get the dispensary contract although an agreement with Bennett precluded him from helping any competitor from obtaining the license. Lally has categorically denied the Bennett’s allegation.

Lally’s legal representatives have claimed that Bennett’s lawsuit lacked merit, calling it ‘premature’ given the fact that there has been no contract awarded to operate the dispensary as of yet. A hearing has been scheduled in response to a motion filed by Lally to dismiss that case filed against him by Bennett.

Jon Levine, who is president of the Massachusetts-based Sigal Consulting, did admit to being aware of Lally’s claim to head the dispensary and of supporting his actions. However, he made it clear that his company was not directly involved in the negotiations, saying only that he was aware that the parties involved were “working on the contract”.

About the Author: Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on,, , and

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