Court pleadings and media reports have uncovered a host of inconsistencies, irregularities and other issues in the scoring and application process for Arkansas’ first medical marijuana growing and selling licenses.
The issues noted thus far are as follows:
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen found that the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission’s process for licensing cannabis growers suffered from, at the very least, the appearance of bias due to relationships between two commissioners and the owners of two of the five companies that scored high enough to receive a license. Griffen’s order was overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court on procedural grounds.
Griffen also found that the state regulators failed to ensure that each applicant met the minimum requirements for a cultivation license because they didn’t independently verify that each facility would be located at least 3,000 feet from the nearest school, church or daycare.
In a letter to the Arkansas Supreme Court, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge revealed that Commissioner Carlos Roman told authorities that one of the cultivation permit applicants — Natural State Agronomics — tried to bribe him; Roman said he denied the offer. The company denied the allegation. However, Roman did give the company his second-highest score — 90 points — which was well above the scores other commissioners gave it, ranging from 66-77.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, using records obtained under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, found that the five commissioners used different scoring sheets to evaluate the 95 growing permit applications. The format of the rubric each commissioner used impacted how the cultivation facility proposals were scored.
This newspaper also found, using sources, public records and other documents, that one of the winning applicants — Delta Medical Cannabis Co. — copied key portions of its application from a competing company that didn’t score well enough to receive a license. Electronic footprints appear to show that Delta received Courageous Ann’s application materials through Michael Langley, the former director of the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, who worked as Courageous Ann’s attorney.