Medical Cannabis Coalition votes to stay license awards

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On Thursday, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) once again voted to stay the issuing of medical cannabis licenses in Alabama.

The AMCC is facing a growing host of lawsuits from applicants who claim that they were wrongly denied cannabis licenses by the Commission at their meeting on August 11.

On Tuesday, attorneys for the AMCC told the court that they intended to “go back to square one” and award the licenses for a third time, addressing concerns that the procedures for the Commission had violated Alabama’s open meetings law.

The plan was tentatively set to again award the licenses on September 19. That plan now appears to be on hold, and no date has been set for the third license awards meeting.

Montgomery Circuit Court Judge James Anderson extended his temporary restraining order on the final issuing of the licenses to September 6.

“The commission’s action today, while pausing the process, furthers that goal by attempting to avoid additional legal challenges,” said Commission Chairman Rex Vaughn. “We understand that litigation is an obstacle, just as it has been in every other state that has a medical cannabis program. However, we appreciate and join in the court’s commitment to seeing that Alabama’s program becomes operational sooner rather than later.”

Chey Garrigan is the Executive Director of the Alabama Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA).

“Every day, I get letters and emails from Alabamians who are seeking relief from medical cannabis,” Garrigan said. “We should have had this up and off the ground in September 2021. The people who were not in the courtroom today are not being represented. How many times are we going to have to go through these applications?”

Marty Schelper is the President of the Alabama Cannabis Coalition. Schelper disagreed with Garrigan.

“The Alabama Cannabis Coalition does not agree with Ms. Garrigan’s position on just hurry this up without fully resolving the matters at hand,” Schelper said. “This legislation was set up to fail because the state decided to create a “Legal” drug cartel, limiting licenses and picking who could participate (and yes, we know there was and is a grading process).”

“Free Market Capitalism and competition in the market is good for business and the consumers,” Schelper continued. “Open the markets up to anyone who passes the “litmus test” to operate in Alabama, that has the capital to pay the exorbitant state licensing fees and develop their business model. The position of the Alabama Cannabis Coalition is that the Alabama Legislature needs to be called back to Montgomery in a special session and resolve this once and for all. These lawsuits will continue until this legislation is amended, and the sick, suffering, and dying citizens will remain the victims.

Garrigan responded, “Calling a special session to amend the cannabis bill is not realistic. We need real solutions.”

The Alabama Legislature passed, and the Governor signed landmark medical cannabis legislation in May 2021, creating the AMCC to regulate the new industry in the state. Most observers understood even then that applicants who were not awarded a license would turn to the courts to seek injunctive relief. That very predictable process is what is playing out now in the courts.

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