Judge tosses Arkansas marijuana dispensary applicant’s suit over scoring

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A federal judge in Arkansas dismissed several claims by a medical marijuana dispensary applicant, including tortious interference and racial discrimination during the state’s license-evaluation process.

According to Law360, U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. ruled that tortious interference doesn’t apply to the claim made by Absolute Essence because it’s still an applicant and doesn’t have any property or business rights.

Absolute Essence’s suit in February 2022 alleged that the company that state regulators hired to score applications, Public Consulting Group Holdings and affiliate Veracious Solutions, was discriminatory and chose to deny the state’s limited number of retail licenses to minority-owned business applications.

The licensing process was halted as a result of the lawsuit, which was sent to federal court last April.

That month, Boston-based Public Consulting Group moved to have the complaints against it dismissed because Absolute Essence didn’t exist until two years after the application was scored.

In May, Veracious Compliance Solutions of Henderson, Nevada, moved to have the case dismissed because it didn’t have final say on the process, plus state regulators had to approve the application scores.

The judge agreed, noting the discrimination claims were dismissed because Absolute Essence has neither property nor a contract, which is required for a claim under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act.

According to Law360, the judge also dismissed:

  • An additional claim of fraud.
  • A claim under the Equal Protection Clause.
  • A civil conspiracy claim.