March 22, 2018, Arkansas
Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen in Arkansas has stopped the state to award its first five MMJ cultivation license in a preliminary injunction. The verdict says that the process for awarding the license was flawed and the scores allotted to all the applicants were not evaluated in the approved manner. As of now, the state’s attorney general hasn’t commented on this development.
Earlier the Judge, who sits in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, issued a restraining order to strike down the process of awarding cultivation license when two MMJ growing companies, which failed to get the license, filed the petition against the commission.
In his verdict, Griffen stated that the licensing process was not in line with the constitutional amendment of 2016 approved by the voters of the state to legalize medical cannabis. Therefore, the rankings and scores awarded to all the 95 applicants are invalid.
The court’s decision to withhold the licensing process validates the concerns raised by the MMJ growers that remained unsuccessful in acquiring cultivation license. In his ruling, Griffen has also made it clear that he is not happy to put a ceiling on the licensing process of the state.
The delay in licensing MMJ growers will surely interrupt the access of medical cannabis patients to the locally grown marijuana. A depleted market will make it difficult to get necessary medicinal products and Judge Griffen is well aware of this fact.
The court’s decision has talked at length about the conflict of interest among the members of the state’s medical cannabis commission. For instance, one of the members has a law firm representing the owner of a company, which is going to get a license for non-cannabis operations. Other than that, one commission member is a physician and refers MMJ patients to another physician who is also a co-owner of one of the growing facility, which was awarded the license.
The state has continuously maintained that all the applications went through redaction and during the process of scoring the applicants, the board members were not aware of the identity of individuals. However, the judge was not convinced with the state’s defense.
Furthermore, the judge also indicated that the state also failed to comply with its own formulated rules by not verifying the provision that the entrance of MMJ growing facility should be 3,000 feet away from churches, schools and healthcare centers. This compliance is a part of the 2016 MMJ constitutional amendment.
Judge Griffen also criticized the state administration for failing to access whether or not the individuals associated with applicant entities have had their commercial status rescinded due to non-payment of taxes. Naturalis Health, an MMJ growing company and primary plaintiff of the lawsuit, has demanded an independent and impartial reevaluation to score the applicants again. They are pleased with the court’s decision to hold back the licensing process and are hopeful that necessary improvements will be put into practice by the state before scoring and awarding the cultivation licenses again.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]