JEFFERSON CITY — Those vittles served up by Robbie Montgomery of Sweetie Pie’s restaurant fame may one day be infused with medical-grade marijuana ingredients.
But for now, the former background singer for Ike and Tina Turner, who starred in the reality show “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” remains in legal limbo after the state of Missouri rejected her startup company’s application for a cannabis license.
According to court filings in Cole County, Grotonics’ appeal of its failed bid for a license is under judicial review after an administrative hearing judge ruled the company had failed to provide all the documents needed for its original application to be considered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The dispute centers on Grotonics’ alleged failure to supply a specific business certificate to finalize its application, despite having two chances to do so.
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Grotonics’ request to the department for a variance was rejected, and Administrative Hearing Commission Katie Jo Wheeler said it was beyond her power to overturn that decision.
“We have no power to superintend another agency’s operations or to determine what procedures an agency should follow,” Wheeler wrote.
Records show Grotonics registered as a company in August 2019 as companies were scrambling to prepare for the advent of the state’s legalized medical marijuana licensing process.
More than 850 companies that did not win a license to grow, distribute or sell medical marijuana appealed to the courts seeking to garner one of the limited slots available.
Of those, DHSS spokeswoman Lisa Cox said Monday that 477 cases are still pending.
The number of successful appeals is very low. According to Cox, administrative judges have ordered DHSS to issue just five licenses through the process.
The company aimed to capitalize on the popularity of “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” an OWN channel reality show about a soul food business founded by Montgomery. The show aired for about five years, ending in 2018.
A company website lists Montgomery as CEO and majority owner of Grotonics. Dr. Richard Bligh is also named as an owner.
The plan, according to the website, was for Grotonics to sell marijuana-infused food in the realm of the Sweetie Pie’s soul food menu.
“Robbie is bringing her recipes and commercial kitchen success to the green market, where she is excited to offer her new Grotonics Medical Marijuana Edible product line,” the website notes.
“Our clinic was established to provide quality treatment with compassion and convenience. Our mission is to provide an alternative, natural way of healing without using industrialized pharmaceuticals,” the website adds.
The Cole County legal action comes as two out of four co-defendants in the killing of Montgomery’s grandson pleaded guilty last week for their roles in a murder-for-hire scheme.
Terica Ellis and Waiel Rebhi Yaghnam pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to commit murder-for-hire in the 2016 murder of 21-year-old Andre Montgomery Jr.
The victim’s uncle, James Timothy “Tim” Norman, of Los Angeles, is awaiting trial.
Investigators and prosecutors say Norman had Montgomery killed as part of a plot to collect $450,000 in life insurance.
Yaghnam helped Norman take out the insurance policy in 2014 that made Norman the sole beneficiary, according to prosecutors. And Ellis, they say, lured Montgomery to the place where he was shot in St. Louis.