Arkansas judge tosses medical marijuana growing licensing process

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An Arkansas judge on Wednesday struck down the state’s decision to issue its first licenses to grow medical marijuana, ruling that the process for awarding the permits and the rankings of applicants were unconstitutional.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen granted a preliminary injunction preventing the state Medical Marijuana Commission from awarding cultivation licenses.

Griffen last week issued a restraining order preventing the state from awarding licenses to five companies.

In his ruling Wednesday, Griffen said the process for awarding the licenses violated a state constitutional amendment voters approved in 2016 legalizing MMJ for patients with certain conditions.

He ruled the commission’s rankings of the 95 applicants for the cultivation licenses were null and void.

Griffen sided with an unsuccessful applicant that had sued the state over claims the process for awarding the licenses was flawed.

In his ruling, Griffen said he “takes no joy” in blocking the state from issuing the licenses.

The attorney general’s office said it was reviewing Griffen’s ruling and discussing it with state officials.

There was no word on whether an appeal to the state Supreme Court was planned.

Naturalis Health, the applicant that sued over the process, has said it wants an independent evaluator to rescore the applications for the cultivation facilities.

Associated Press