Our View

Our View

Maybe they’ll do it right this time around…

It is almost amusing to sit back and hear about all the squabbling going on between the disgruntled marijuana growers and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission claiming the selection process for five cultivation permits was flawed.

It was just a couple of weeks ago, and shortly after the permits were issued, that a Pulaski county circuit judge ordered a halt to the issuance of the permits based on what he determined as a flawed process.

Since then, Arkansas’ attorney general has decided to get involved in the dispute by appealing the circuit judge’s order to the Arkansas Supreme Court, meaning it could be several months before permits can be granted and longer to construct the cultivation facilities to actually grow the marijuana.

While County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen is siding with the disgruntled cultivators, state attorneys are defending the evaluation system and are asking the lawsuit filed by Naturalis Health LLC, one of 90 cultivation- license applicants that scored outside the top five, be tossed out.

Now, we all know that won’t happen which means the appeal process to work its way through the Supreme Court will take at least until fall. We’re also told that more delays await regardless of how the high court justices rule.

Bear in mind people, voters approved the legalization of marijuana for supposedly medical purposes back in November 2016 and here we are 2018. By the time all this works its way through the legal system it may very well be a couple more years before those Arkansans wanting this pot for their aches and pains get to toke up on a joint.

It is the opinion of several critics that this entire mess could have been avoided if the bureaucrats and politicians overseeing this implementation would have performed due diligence as to how other states with legalized marijuana dealt with implementation and scoring of applicants.

The judge agreed with the plaintiff that the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division staff’s failure to verify applicants’ compliance with key requirements and the appearance of bias in the scoring of two winning applications.

The commission had also began scoring the 227 dispensary applications after finalizing the cultivation facility rankings but Griffen’s order inject uncertainty into that process as well.

While hindsight is always 20-20, what should have occurred was to bring in a totally independent panel of judges with absolutely no ties or connections with any of the applicants.

Based on what has been made public as to how this process was handled there are entirely too many discrepancies that simply can’t be ignored. We suspect that when this is all hashed out, the five permits that were originally granted will be tossed out and there will be another round of evaluation and scoring, this time hopefully by an independent group of qualified individuals. We suspect the same process will take place in the evaluation and scoring of the applicants applying for one of the dispensaries.