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Our View

Questions continue to swirl around Arkansas’s medical marijuana roll-out

If accusations of cronyism in the permitting process to grow and distribute medical marijuana in Arkansas isn’t bad enough, we now are told that an Arkansas Medical Marijuana commission member was actually offered a bribe by one of the unsuccessful applicants.

Leave it up to a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats to come up with a so-called Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to determine who gets one of the highly sought after permits and what do you get?

A complete screw up that now is being left up to the Arkansas Supreme Court to figure out what to do next.

This is just the latest in a series of issues ever since Arkansans voted to legalize marijuana for medical use way back in 2016, approving Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution.

Not to concern ourselves, says Gov. Asa Hutchinson casually said other states where marijuana was legalized have faced similar delays. So, what does that have to do with anything governor?

Well, to that obvious casual brush off we simply say if other states have had issues similar to what Arkansas is going through why and the heck didn’t someone on this questionable “pot” commission learn any lessons from the screw-ups of others?

Maybe, just maybe, if this commission had explored how other states handled the permitting process and what they learned we wouldn’t be going through this mess and long delay.

Hutchinson is now saying that while he respects the commission’s independence, he would’ve have rather seen them use a lottery-style system to determine the winners of the growing licenses. Instead, the commission adopted a merit-scoring system.

Why didn’t our governor make that suggestion a long time ago?

The major question we need answers to now and one that Gov. Hutchinson should also be asking is why and the heck didn’t the commissioner who received the bribe didn’t report it immediately?

Hutchinson’s response was that when you have average citizens, who don’t have years of experience in public service situations such as this will occur.

Now, Gov. Hutchinson what the heck does public service experience have to do with someone making a bribe? Come on governor, you can do better than that.

So then, these revelation came about as a result of an investigation from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

In a letter submitted to the state Supreme Court, Rutledge wrote that the unnamed commissioner said he id not accept the bribe offered by Natural State Agronomics, but he did give the company the second- highest score among the 95 applications he graded. The letter also noted that the score was significantly higher than those given to the company by the other four commissioners.

Although there is no specific law or regulation requiring a commissioner to report a bribe attempt, and there is no evidence that this commissioner took the bribe the integrity of this commission has been compromised.

This bribery allegation coupled with questions raised as to the integrity of the entire permitting process leaves us to believe justices have little recourse but to scrap the entire permitting process and start all over again.