An Alabama judge this week halted the state’s latest efforts to issue medical cannabis licenses.
After issuing a temporary restraining order blocking the issuance of dispensary-only permits in late December, Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Anderson on Wednesday also stopped regulators from handing out so-called “integrated” licenses ahead of an anticipated Jan. 9 award date, AL.com reported.
And there’s a “serious question” whether the state might need to abandon the current licensing round and start over for a fourth time, the judge wrote in his ruling.
Alabama legalized medical marijuana through its Legislature in 2021, but there’s still no legal access.
Regulators have promised that the first legal sales will begin sometime this year, but a lengthy courtroom drama over the limited number of licenses available is ongoing.
Twice last summer, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission awarded licenses only to revoke them after:
- The validity of the scoring process was questioned.
- Applicants filed lawsuits after being awarded a license in the first round but then were rejected in the second round.
The state issued permits for a third time in December only to encounter more legal challenges.
The latest restraining order will remain in effect until a future court date.
But Anderson hinted in his ruling that the state might need to start the process over yet again.
The judge noted “that all three rounds of awards have been challenged as legally infirm: the first two rounds of awards were abandoned by action of the commission itself, and now there is a serious question as to whether the third round is also invalid.”