Just in case you thought it was safe to stop thinking about the conflict between MedMen MMEN MMNFF and Ascend Wellness Holdings AAWH, a new twist pulls you right back in.
The often vitriolic court battle between two cannabis companies over a licensing deal gone bad and alleged political misconduct seems to have taken a another turn, reported amNY.
Lawyers with Ascend Wellness said that MedMen has indicated it will withdraw its allegations that Ascend executives put political pressure on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration to approve a medical marijuana license transfer between the two companies, the original source of the conflict.
Ascend, which is hoping to set up operations in New York, filed a lawsuit in state court in January against MedMen that claimed the defendant had not fulfilled a contract to hand over $73 million worth of in-state licensed operations.
In response, MedMen filed a counterclaim accusing Ascend of leaning on Hochul’s administration and the Office of Cannabis Management to approve the license transfer between the two companies.
After Ascend’s counsel provided evidence that conflicted with MedMen’s assertions last week, Mylan Denerstein, a lawyer representing Ascend, said that counsel for MedMen has agreed to withdraw that allegation.
“Like any house of cards, MedMen’s claims collapsed when exposed to the slightest scrutiny. Ascend will continue to correct the record and looks forward to entering New York’s cannabis market once its rights are vindicated in court,” Denerstein said in a statement to amNY.
MedMen had accused Ascend’s president Andrew Brown of attending a fundraiser for Hochul on Dec. 8, and its CEO Abner Kurtin of meeting with the governor's secretary that same week to pressure on the state to push the deal through.
Ascend responded last week in its motion to dismiss the counter suit that MedMen’s narrative about political pressure is made up. Ascend argued that MedMen’s claims were an attempt to kill the deal after it got a case of “seller’s remorse” and hoped “to strike a better deal with a new buyer.”
As evidence to its counterclaim, Ascend submitted court logs and a hotel receipt that show Brown providing legal counsel and staying at a hotel in Albany on the day that MedMen accused him of attending the Manhattan fundraiser.
A spokesperson from Gov. Hochul’s administration also called MedMen’s accusations false.
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