Lawsuits challenge Arkansas’ medical cannabis licensing process

Some medical marijuana business license applicants in Arkansas have filed anonymous lawsuits charging that regulators wrongly rejected their applications and are seeking a temporary restraining order to force the state to keep their bids in the scoring pool.

Such a restraining order, if granted, would force the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission – the agency tasked with rejecting and approving applications – to “shut down” its work, a spokesman for the group told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The suits, which are currently under seal because of the anonymous filings, allege that the commission notified the plaintiffs 10 days after the application deadline that their paperwork was missing certain required documents such as proof of residency and therefore didn’t give the applicants time to submit the required documents.

The number of plaintiffs is unknown.

According to the newspaper, the commission has agreed to refund thousands of dollars in fees to applicants who were disqualified.

Records provided by the state Department of Finance and Administration – under which the Arkansas commission operates – show that “16 applications were flagged as inadequate for reasons similar to those described by the complaints,” the Democrat-Gazette reported.

The state received a total of 322 applications for both cultivation centers and dispensaries.

The commission said earlier this month it likely will have to delay the rollout of Arkansas’ medical marijuana program because of the time it will need to conduct FBI background checks on the applicants.

The state had expected to award business licenses by the end of the year and launch sales in March 2018.