After allegations of an unfair selection process, an Arkansas judge rescinds all cannabis licenses that were about to be issued. Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin announced his decision to declare those licenses “null and void” on Wednesday morning.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission chose five applicants to grow cannabis for the state’s medical marijuana program. The commission announced which applications they had approved last month.
Judge Griffen didn’t pull any punches in his written ruling, according to reports in local media.
“To put it bluntly, the Medical Marijuana Commission and Alcoholic Beverage Control Division have proceeded in a manner that defies due process and the rule of law, rather than in a manner that respects it,” the judge wrote.
Judge Finds Many Problems With The Process
The judge found that the commission had not followed the state’s medical marijuana law by failing to determine the distance of the proposed growing operations from schools, day care centers, and churches.
Regulators also failed to investigate whether any applications were from “entities whose corporate status has been revoked for failure to pay franchise taxes.” The commission is mandated to do so by its own rules.
Judge Griffen also decried relationships between some successful applicants and members of the commission. Two people with ties to firms seeking licenses have business dealings with two commission members.
The judge said that issue consequently “created the appearance of bias in violation of due process of law.”
The judge also faulted regulators for failing to hear appeals from those denied permits. He said the commission should have sought input from the public, as well.
Judge Ruled On Lawsuit
Judge Griffen issued his ruling in a lawsuit filed by unsuccessful applicants for cultivation lawsuits last week.
Naturalis Health LLC Health LLC filed the case Judge Griffen ruled on Wednesday. The firm requested in its suit that the judge issue a temporary restraining order to stop the commission from granting the licenses.
They said that the people of the state could not trust the newly created regulatory system, according to local reports.
“Defendants have caused a complete distrust in the newly implemented medical marijuana industry, approved by Arkansas voters, to serve the medicinal needs of qualifying Arkansans.”
The lawsuit also asked Judge Griffin to act quickly in the case.
“Arkansas is the first state in the south to legalize medicinal marijuana. The State has an obligation not only to plaintiff but to its citizens, to get this right. The State has a limited window of time to correct the problems outlined in this Complaint. This Court must act now.”
Judge Griffen issued his decision less than two weeks later.
Final Hit: Arkansas Judge Rescinds All Cannabis Cultivation Licenses
State regulators have accepted the judge’s ruling. Scott Hardin released a statement from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration to the press.
“We respect Judge Griffen’s decision and must refer any questions regarding this matter to the Attorney General’s Office, our legal representation in this matter,” he said.
It is not yet known how the licensing process will proceed.