Lawsuits Filed Over Growing, Selling Medical Marijuana in AR

Update (October 27) : 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Several candidates who applied to grow and sell medical marijuana in the Natural State are now suing after their applications were rejected. 

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission told many of the 322 applicants their submissions wouldn't even be considered because they failed to meet minimum requirements. 

The two lawsuits claim the applications followed all the rules and the commission was wrong to throw them out. 

Scott Hardin, the commission's spokesperson, said its members haven't been served yet.

"We've got a team of people, ten plus, who continue to work on this process," Hardin said. "They're working every day to depersonalize the 300-plus applications. They're putting in extra hours, really working hard to get these applications ready for the commissioners to review starting mid December. However, if for any reason due to a lawsuit we were to receive a temporary restraining order to tell us to stop, we would certainly abide by that." 

The commission's next meeting is Dec. 1. 

Original story: 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Looming lawsuits could delay the Medical Marijuana Commission's plans to start grading applications to grow and sell the product in December.

The five commissioners voted on several updates to the process at their meeting Monday night that will help applicants.

However, one decision that some say wasn't fully discussed raised a red flag.

"Nobody knows where they stand or what they can or cannot do until the licenses are actually awarded," said Alex Gray, a partner at SWGH Law Firm in Little Rock. "It's a big question mark." 

The attorney helped several of the 322 total applicants with their submissions to become one of the state's five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensaries.

"We were able to follow the rules and get them to be considered by the commission," Gray said.  

But according to documents from the meeting, ABC flagged at least 84 others for failing to meet the minimum requirements. Emails already went out notifying applicants whether the five commissioners would grade their applications.

"So people know where they stand," Gray said.  

The commission voted to clear up some issues with the application so that number is likely to go down. However, it also made another decision to award or deny licenses the same day it officially notifies some applicants that it was unable to even grade their submissions.

"That person would more or less be out of luck because at that time, the licenses have already been issued, the commission would have already scored everything," Gray said. 

The rules still allow those applicants to submit an administrative repeal and ultimately file a lawsuit in circuit court.

"But at that point and time, it's just too late," Gray said. 

That's why in less than 24 hours, several applicants contacted Gray to file a lawsuit challenging the commission's decision.

"It seems that people's rights have been denied and infringed upon because they are unable to get a fair shake," Gray said.

Applicants who are graded but not awarded licenses in the end could also seek legal action, but Gray said he doesn't want to get in on that. 

He expects the commission to award licenses next spring and best case scenario, Arkansans could start buying the product three months after that. 

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