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Judge stops state Medical Marijuana Commission from licensing pot growers

By Hunter Field

This article was originally published March 14, 2018 at 11:13 a.m. Updated March 14, 2018 at 5:29 p.m.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen on Wednesday halted, for now, the issuance of Arkansas’ first medical marijuana growing permits.

One of the unsuccessful applicants for a growing permit, Naturalis Health LLC, had sued the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission over its process for evaluating the 95 growing applications.

Griffen in his order said Naturalis Health “asserts facts showing a substantial likelihood of success on the merits regarding violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, due process and equal protection.”

[DOCUMENT: Read Griffen's order]

Naturalis was one of two companies that sued the commission Tuesday, claiming that the scoring process was flawed.

An attorney for Naturalis said he was pleased with the order and was confident in the firm's case challenging the application process. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office said it will respond to the company's lawsuit "in due course."

The panel had a meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at which commissioners were expected to award the first cannabis growing licenses to five winning applicants. It has been postponed, according to spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Griffen has scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for Friday morning, after which the commission plans to set a new meeting date.

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 legalizing medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions. The commission is expected later this year to license up to 32 dispensaries to sell the drug. The state has approved 4,410 applications for patients to use medical marijuana and will issue registry cards about a month before the drug is expected to be available legally.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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BRADO1 says... March 14, 2018 at 11:28 a.m.

I thought this freaky liberal judge was always on the side of freaky liberal ideas. Maybe I need to rethink my position...

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dapop6 says... March 14, 2018 at 11:37 a.m.

Governor step in and award an out of state committee to score the applicants who would have no prejudice...its fair and spend the money which in turn would pay itself back and many times over..

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mrcharles says... March 14, 2018 at 11:58 a.m.

brado, all have biases [see SCOTUS giving W the presidency in Bush v Gore, clearly partisan decision] , perhaps you just didn't like him so his other positions had to be wrong. I think he is pretty smart and if he just didnt have that deity believing mind set in him, think he would be a really good person.

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Slak says... March 14, 2018 at 12:01 p.m.

grow your own

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Whippersnapper says... March 14, 2018 at 1:25 p.m.

The Supreme Court did not "give" the Presidency to Bush in Bush v Gore.
You must have missed where numerous news organizations have done analysis and discovered that under almost every recount scenario, Bush beat Gore in Florida. This includes everything Gore specifically requested. The only scenario that gave Gore a win was a partial recount in specific counties using a standard that Gore didn't ask for. Every statewide recount scenario had Bush winning.
In fact, Bush v Gore declared with a 7-2 vote (hardly partisan - 2 of the liberal justices joined with the 3 conservatives and the moderately conservative Kennedy and O'Connor) that the county by county mishmash recount standard Gore asked for was unconstitutional. The 5-4 vote was a declaration by one side that the Democrats had waited too long to meet the requirements of Federal law in Presidential election challenges while the other side thought that the explicit requirements of the law didn't matter as much and that Florida should be allowed to go through with a 100% recount (which would have seen Bush win anyway).

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DerbiRider says... March 14, 2018 at 2:42 p.m.

Wow. ADG didn't use the word "pot" in this article title. You old fogies are slipping.

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hurricane46 says... March 14, 2018 at 3:16 p.m.

If anyone needs this its the Delta, which is drying up. I don’t think they have huge Walmart distribution centers or Tyson chicken facilities. So why not let them grow pot for the state.

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mrcharles says... March 14, 2018 at 3:42 p.m.

The majority hastened to add that “our consideration is limited to the
present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes
generally presents many complexities. Like the rest of Bush v. Gore, there is no precedent for a decision of the Supreme Court that comes with the warning label ...“NOT TO BE USED AS A PRECEDENT. zero reference to it in SCOTUS decisions since.

Thomas did not recuse himself, as 28 USC § 455 requires of judges if a spouse [ virginia] has “an interest. Eugene Scalia was a partner in the very firm in which Theodore B.
Olson, who argued George W. Bush’s case before the Court, was also a partner.Sandra Day O’Connor had been observed as visibly upset at an election-night party when Florida was first called for Gore, remarking, this is terrible-- later expressed her misgivings about the ruling . 3 extreme partisans.

Yet whopper you failed to go one step further in your news organization comment that a full statewide recount of rejected ballots would probably have gone Gore’s way, or that with black precincts experiencing more than three times as many rejected ballots as white precincts, early concerns about vote suppression were confirmed. There were the infamous “butterfly ballots,” which assuredly confused thousands of elderly voters who intended to vote for Gore, but mistakenly punched Pat Buchanan.

Stop counting, whoops it's too late. Bush of course was chosen to win , so it is in the books. Yet the close call in florida does not mean that bush "won" except by extreme partisan Thomas and Scalia, O'connor while staunch gop er, at least later had a conscience unlike the party hacks thomas & scalia. Will admit it is like protestants and Catholics discussing true doctrine, complex stuff.

as to the issue at hand, griffin may , again , I say let his deity bias decide this, which is a defect he has .

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CarlSackrider says... March 14, 2018 at 4:17 p.m.

BTW, you guys arguing over the Bush v Gore election are losers. Anyway, Tillman should be removed from the commission.

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obbie says... March 14, 2018 at 6:55 p.m.

Judge Griffen possesses much intelligence in his decision. We just don't always agree with them. Several American states and provinces in Canada control, sell and receive tax money from tobacco and liquor. Arkansas should/should have done the same with grass and placed the profits in the General Treasury instead of needing more taxes.

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