The Pa. Department of Health is resisting calls to release the identities of panelists who determined which companies won permits to grow and dispense medical marijuana. In a statement issued late Friday, a spokesperson for Health said it had appealed an Aug. 31 decision by the Office of Open Records (OOR) ordering it to disclose the names.

"Releasing this information puts these state employees at personal risk for harassment or worse, and the regulations specifically protect this information, as best practices from other states support, insulating these state employees from outside influence or harassment," read the statement. Earlier this month, an OOR official said Health's Office of Medical Marijuana had provided no evidence that revealing the identities could subject the panelists to either bribes or threats.

An unknown number of panel members reviewed and scored hundreds of lengthy applications before awarding 12 potentially lucrative business permits to cannabis cultivators. The panel later awarded 27 permits to sell hash oil products at discrete dispensaries. State law forbids any smokable forms of marijuana.