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Judge stops state Medical Marijuana Commission from licensing pot growers

by Hunter Field | 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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