Just when things started looking rosy, Alabama’s medical marijuana licensing process was dealt another blow. A court issued yet another pause in the process in response to a lawsuit filed by two companies against the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.
According to the Alabama Political Reporter, court filings obtained by the outlet Tuesday detail the ways in which Insa Alabama and Alabama Always allege potential misconduct and favoritism in the licensing procedures.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Anderson ordered the pause of the licensing process last week, granting the plaintiff companies the right to conduct depositions and request a wide range of documents from the AMCC. That came amid claims that the AMCC may have engaged in secretive discussions with certain applicants, potentially influencing the licensing outcomes unfairly.
The AMCC contested Anderson’s decision, asserting that it breaches the principles of public meetings and transparency. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday to address the AMCC’s objections and its threat to appeal the judge’s ruling.
The allegations at the center of the lawsuit include inappropriate external communications by AMCC members and staff with applicants or their representatives and suggestions that staff members influenced commission votes.
The claims, which have been hinted at in previous interviews and court filings by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, suggest a rigged and troubled licensing process.
The lawsuit apparently caused division within the AMCC, with some commissioners reportedly favoring a transparent legal process to address the accusations.
Sources close to the commission told the news outlet that there is a growing frustration among some members over the integrity of the licensing process.
A deadline of Jan. 19 was set by the court for all documents to be produced and depositions to be completed. Until then, the process of granting licenses for medical marijuana facilities in Alabama will continue to remain in limbo.
The report follows a series of legal challenges over the past several months from more than two dozen applicants, who alleged irregularities in the licensing process by regulatory authorities. The disputes have resulted in repeated delays and revisions to the process that started in June.
The program strictly regulates the types of products that can be sold, prohibiting the sale of smokable marijuana and allowing only nonsmokable forms like gummies, tablets, capsules, tinctures, and oils. It also has strict limits on the number of operators allowed in the most popular categories, such as integrated operator.