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Medical cannabis back in court this week

Lawyers for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission and businesses are back in court today concerning issuing medical cannabis licenses. The process has been stalled since June by litigation and internal reviews by the commission.

Montgomery Circuit Court Judge James Anderson is slated to hear arguments challenging the process by which the AMCC awarded licenses to businesses in Alabama’s fledgling cannabis industry.

In June, the AMCC issued licenses to 21 groups to grow, process, transport, laboratory, or dispense medical cannabis. Integrator licenses, which permit a fully integrated seed to sales system, were also issued.

Within days of making the awards, the AMCC suspended the process because of alleged inconsistencies in how the applications were scored.

Anderson issued a stay on the hold when the first lawsuits were filed by those who were denied licenses. The original suit by Alabama Always has since been joined by other plaintiffs into a consolidated lawsuit.

Legislation to legalize medical cannabis was signed in 2021 and created the commission to issue licenses and regulate the industry.

In August, the AMCC issued 24 awards. Most of the entities that were awarded in June also received awards in August.

However, Verona received an integrator license in June; but was replaced by Insa Alabama in August. Verona has since sued arguing the AMCC did not follow the Open Meetings Act when it went into an extended executive session during the August meeting.

Verona claims it had the highest score of any of the applicants in both awards and is objecting to the process by which they were awarded and then non-awarded.

Last week, Mobile-based Southeast Cannabis filed a lawsuit saying it has been awarded a license and is demanding the commission issue it.

Anderson will consider whether or not to extend his stay on the issuing of those licenses in today’s hearing.

The commission will meet Thursday to consider potential changes in the rules on license application evaluations and other parts of the process.

Legislation to legalize medical cannabis was signed in 2021 and created the commission to issue licenses and regulate the industry. It was eight months into 2022 before the AMCC finished its rules-writing process and research into medical cannabis laws in other states.

The process for vetting applications then took another 10 months. Barring any further delays, the earliest that anyone will be able to get medical cannabis is 2024.

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