I'm seeking reaction from the attorney general. UPDATE: Not much from Leslie Rutledge's office:
“We respect Judge Griffen’s decision and must refer any questions regarding this matter to the Attorney General’s Office, our legal representation in this matter. “
We are reviewing the circuit court’s memorandum order and discussing it with Director Casteel and other affected state entities.Wednesday evening, Scott Hardin of DF&A noted that the next step in the process is awarding 32 dispensary permits from among 200 or so applicants. He said:
A review of the order is underway to determine next steps regarding dispensary scoring.
Here, the un-contradicted proof shows that the Medical Marijuana Commission did not evaluate the fact that persons identified as owners in the applications from Natural State Medicinals Cultivation, Osage Creek Cultivation, and Delta Medical Cannabis Company owned and managed entities that had their business licenses revoked, despite clear language in Commission Rule 1.9(b) that "[t]he commission shall consider... [o]wning and managing a business that has not had its business license revoked" when evaluating cultivation facility license applications.The judge also found the state staff had acted arbitrarily in not independently validating whether applicants were 3,0000 feet from a church or school.
Here Plaintiff points to pecuniary relationships between Commissioner Roman and Dr. Scott Schlesinger and between Commissioner Story's law firm and other business interestsAdministrative decisions must not only be unbiased, the judge wrote, they must appear to be unbiased. (Critics will undoubtedly find much to say about this portion of Griffen's decision, given the controversy in which he's enmeshed as a personal opponent of the death penalty sitting on a case that ultimately led to a ruling adverse to the state carrying out an execution.)
owned by Jay and Mary Trulove. That proof is not nebulous, hypothetical, or fanciful. The fact that Dr. Roman scored the cultivation facility application of NSMC, a competitor to Plaintiff whose ownership includes Dr. Schlesinger, more than thirty points higher than the average score Dr. Roman assigned to other cultivation facility license applicants is certainly enough to create a reasonable suspicion of unfaimess, even if it does not establish actual bias. The same is true for Commissioner Story, whose law firm has represented Jay and Mary Trulove since 2015 in a number of legal matters
To put it bluntly, the Medical Marijuana Commission and Alcoholic Beverage Control Division have proceeded in a manner that dehes due process and the rule of law, rather than in a manner that respects it.He said it was "unpleasant" that the decision means more delay for people hoping to obtain medical marijuana to alleviate suffering. But he said it was the court's duty to uphold the rule of law.
Based on the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and analysis set forth herein, the licensing process and decisions of the Medical Marijuana Commission and its co-defendants Alcoholic Beverage Control Division and Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration are hereby declared to violate Amendment 98 to the Constitution of Arkansas, found to be ultra vires, violate due process of law, resulted from improper procedure, and are arbitrary and capricious. Hence, the licensing decisions and rankings rendered by the Medical Marijuana Commission must not stand, and are, hereby, declared null and void. Plaintiff s motion to enjoinA separate lawsuit was filed in Lee County by another unsuccessful applicant that contended the process hadn't adequately considered African-American interests. No decision has been issued in that case.
Defendants from issuing cultivation facility licenses is GRANTED
Delta Medical Cannabis Company is disappointed with the order entered today. We fully and completely satisfied all requirements and obligations associated with the application process. We followed and complied with all applicable rules, have been completely transparent, and have done nothing to justify the delay in receiving our license. We believe that our application was judged fairly and impartially, and that all rules of the Medical Marijuana Commission and Alcoholic Beverage Control Division were followed. We look forward to receiving a license from the state of Arkansas, and stand ready to cultivate medical marijuana for qualifying Arkansans as soon as possible.Wednesday evening, former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, an owner
“The MMC issued to us the attached license on green paper, which states that it is, “CULTIVATION FACILITY LICENSE PERMIT 00123”
“Natural State Wellness Enterprises was clearly awarded its license on March 9, 2018. We are evaluating how best to respond to the court’s order, which says it is both a “Preliminary Injunction and Declaratory Judgment.” We will take all appropriate steps to defend our license and assist the State in defending the constitutionality of the MMC's decisions.”
“If the Court’s ruling stands, the MMC will have to hire dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people to investigate every assertion made under oath on every application. That would have a severe budget impact on many agencies beyond just the MMC, and is simply not required by the rules or the Constitution,” McDaniel said.