Arkansas justices to expedite medical marijuana case that halted MMJ program

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The Arkansas Supreme Court has agreed to speed up its review of a ruling that has halted the issuance of the state’s first medical marijuana growing licenses.

The high court set an expedited briefing schedule in an order this week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The final pleading is set to be submitted May 30.

Arkansas appealed Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s order, which has also stopped the Medical Marijuana Commission’s review of more than 220 medical marijuana dispensary applications.

Griffen had ruled in favor of the unsuccessful permit applicant Naturalis Health, finding that the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission’s process for scoring the 98 cultivation-license applications was flawed and unconstitutional.

In its request for an expedited appeal, Arkansas argued that this case was a matter of significant public interest, noting that more than 5,000 medical-marijuana registry ID cards have already been issued by the state Health Department.

“Citizens of the state of Arkansas voted to legalize medical marijuana for fellow citizens suffering from chronic, debilitating and life-threatening health challenges,” state attorneys wrote in their motion.

“A long appellate process during which implementation of Amendment 98 is delayed is contrary to the people’s intent in adopting Amendment 98 and thus contrary to the public interest.”

The high court’s order comes before its summer break, which begins June 21. The state Supreme Court will return for its fall term Sept. 6.

– Associated Press