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Failed cannabis applicants return to court in attempt to block successful license awards

On Thursday the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) is scheduled to meet virtually. This meeting is the next step in the issuing of licenses to business entities allowing for the legal production of Alabama grown and produced medical cannabis. The Commission is scheduled to meet at 1:00 p.m.

Prior to that meeting, plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging the cannabis awards will meet in Circuit Court in Montgomery where they are expected to ask Judge James Anderson to put a stay on the proceedings.

Applicants who did not receive awards by the Commission to produce medical cannabis are suing to block the issuing of the licenses next month.

RELATED: Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission awards licenses to integrated facilities

All of this has happened before. In June, the Commission made cannabis awards. Plaintiffs then filed lawsuits, and the Commission later vacated the awards to settle the lawsuits with disgruntled failed applicants. In August, the Commission issued new awards. Additional failed applicants filed lawsuits.

To settle these legal complaints and avoid depositions and a lengthy trial, the Commission vacated those awards as well.

In court-ordered mediation, attorneys for the AMCC agreed not to consider the scoring of the applications by independent evaluators hired by the University of South Alabama. This satisfied most of the plaintiffs at that time, and most of those earlier lawsuits were dismissed with prejudice by the court.

RELATED: Settlement reached in Alabama medical cannabis lawsuits

In late November and early December, all of the applicants were given the opportunity to make direct presentations to the commissioners themselves. The individual commissioners then ranked the applications in all of the categories from first to last.

Those rankings were then totaled and averaged, then the commission voted to make new awards based on those rankings.

Categories included: Cultivator, processor, secure transporter, testing laboratory, dispensary, and integrated facilities — which allows the business to grow, process, transport and dispense medical cannabis.

36 applicants applied for the five integrator licenses. The number of licenses that the commission an award was set by the original 2021 legislation creating the AMCC and authorizing the Commission to write the regulations for the Alabama medical cannabis industry and make the awards.

RELATED: Medical cannabis coming soon? 21 businesses awarded licenses

According to the posted agenda, the AMCC will approve the minutes of the past six commission meetings and authorize Director John McMillan to engage a hearing officer to consider the complaints of failed applicants. The AMCC will also consider other items related to holding those investigative hearings. Any orders from Judge Anderson in Thursday morning’s court proceeding could potentially impact the meeting scheduled for later that day.

In addition to a number of lawsuits that have been filed with the Montgomery Circuit Court, there is a lawsuit that has been filed in federal court by one of the plaintiffs.

The Commission remains hopeful that Alabamians diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition will be able to purchase Alabama grown medical cannabis sometime in the spring.

The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled for January 11 at 1:00 p.m.

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