Commission awards cannabis cultivation permits | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Commission awards cannabis cultivation permits

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 4:18 PM

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission today officially awarded cultivation permits to the five companies that had finished at the top of initial grading of the applications. This is not likely the end of it.

The permits went to:

Natural State Medicinals Cultivation
Bold Team, LLC
Natural State Wellness Enterprises
Osage Creek Cultivation
Delta Medical Cannabis Company, Inc.

To recap: These companies scored at the top among dozens in a grading process that has since come under heavy criticism for irregularities in scoring, an appearance of a conflict of interest on the part of some commissioners, copying of applications and other shortcomings.

A lawsuit led to a ruling by Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen that the scoring should be set aside. Then the Supreme Court overruled Griffen, in part because it said the permits hadn't officially been awarded. The Supreme Court also announced it had received an allegation of attempted bribery of a commissioner.

The various problems led to some to call for a rescoring of applications. That won't happen. The Commission is sticking by its guns. Now applicants can challenge an individual or all the permit awards in new lawsuits. The winners, with permits in hand, now can claim some property right to holding onto the permits.

Presumably, SOMEBODY — state or federal — is looking into the allegation of bribery.

Yet the state commission decided to forge ahead once the mandate on the Supreme Court decision was received. Not necessarily a good look. Meanwhile, it is mulling whether to seek some outside advice on the award of eight dispensary permits.

There was no meeting. I've asked how this could move forward WITHOUT a meeting. Instead, just this release.
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Dustin McDaniel, attorney for one of the applicants, offered this explanation for award of permits without a meeting:

All rules and conditions were satisfied. No meeting was required
UPDATE: State spokesman Scott Hardin said:

“The licenses were issued today but there was no requirement that the Commission meet to issue the licenses. While there was a meeting scheduled on March 14 to formally issue them, this wasn’t required. With each company having paid the licensing fee and posted the performance bond, the rules state they will be awarded a license. Letters of protest and complaints, under the rules, are now turned over to ABC Enforcement, with the ability to investigate (as a full law enforcement agency) and revoke a license (in coordination with ABC Board) if warranted.”

He added later to my question about need for meeting:

“Issuing the licenses is an administrative procedure (completed by ABC staff) following the companies paying the licensing fee and posting the performance bond. There is no requirement in the rules that a meeting be held or the Commissioners sign a certain document. At the March 14 meeting, licenses were going to be handed to the top five but there was nothing required of Commissioners such as a motion, etc. It was just scheduled that they would be distributed at the meeting. Today’s issuance of the licenses is simply following the next step in the MMC rules. All letters of protest and complaints are now turned over to ABC Enforcement, a full law enforcement agency with the capability of revoking a license (in coordination with the ABC Board) if warranted. “

Why I think more is to come:

Note from Supreme Court decision:

It noted the denial of license to other applicants was not then ripe for appeal because they had not been issued denial letters. Presumably those letters will be issued Thursday. Presumably, they will then be able to sue. Again.

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