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Hopeful medical cannabis supplier joins AMCC as defendant in licensure process suit

Sustainable Alabama is one of the five companies that would be awarded an integrated facility license.

Sustainable COO Ben Bramlett at the company's hemp growing facility.
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Another company has joined a lawsuit originally filed by Alabama Always against the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission—but this company is on the side of the commission.

Sustainable Alabama is one of the five companies that the commission announced at its June 12 meeting would be awarded an integrated facility license, one of only five such licenses allowed under the 2019 legislation.

Montgomery Circuit Judge John Anderson issued a stay on the licensure process last month, reinforcing a stay the Commission itself imposed upon finding “potential inconsistencies” in the scoring tabulations of its applicants.

Alabama Always argued that the commission’s authority to issue such a stay is unclear and needed legal reinforcement in the courts; the commission did not oppose the court enshrining what it had already done.

But Sustainable Alabama argues in a court filing that the company has already incurred significant costs, obligations and liabilities since the commission announced the licenses, including a $50,000 fee paid the day after he announcement—and before the commission announced its stay.

It also argued that it abided by all of the rules of the Commission, including complying with a 10-megabyte limit that Alabama Always has complained about in its suit as one unfair advantage that was given to some applicants. Alabama Always said some applicants were unfairly allowed to submit additional information on a USB.

“Sustainable did not use placeholder exhibit pages or submit additional information by USB,” the company states in its motion to intervene in the lawsuit.

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Alabama Always has also hinted that some of the companies that the commission selected for licensure cannot meet the 60-day turnaround to beginning the cultivation process. Sustainable’s motion to intervene indicates they projected to have cultivation capability within 45 days.

“The notice of award, therefore, required Sustainable to act immediately to fulfill its obligations under the Act and Rules, and it has done so,” the company states in its complaint. “That work continues and Sustainable has incurred costs and expenses associated with it.”

The motion also list costs and obligations on land deals that are conditional on the award of the license that have already begun.

Anderson delayed a hearing that had been set for July 13 in the case, but a status hearing is set on the lawsuit today at 1:30 p.m.

Alabama Always has also invited media to tour its Montgomery facility earlier the same morning.

Who is Sustainable Alabama?

According to the company’s website—which appeared to still be under constant update during multiple viewing Wednesday night—the company is an offshoot of Neal Pope’s Farm in Salem, Alabama near Opelika.

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“In 2018, the farm expanded its mission by adopting the Hemp Pilot Program when Congress legalized the growing of hemp,” the website states. “At that time, they launched a brand, Sustainable CBD, and has supplied cannabinoid derivatives on a local and national level since.”

At the time of its expansion, the farm brought in Auburn University graduate Ben Bramlett as chief operating officer. 

“Under Ben’s oversight, the farm has exceeded national average yields by 80 percent while keeping costs 20 percent below the Alabama Cooperative Extension (ALCE) average,” the site says of Bramlett. “He has partnered with ASU on a 3-year trial to research insect-pest relationships with hemp, and has collaborated with ALCE, Auburn University, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to produce multiple educational videos about the sustainability of hemp as an agricultural crop and commodity. Through the development and formulation of multiple CBD product lines, he has expanded our predecessor company, Sustainable CBD, from an Alabama-grown crop to a national brand.”

Bramlett is just one of 13 owners, which includes a mix of attorneys, accountants, doctor, a. pharmacist, and more. The other owners are Warren Cobb, James Cunningham, Michael Delaney, Scott Delaney, Randy Dempsey, Dr. Marnix Heersink, Dr. Sebastian Heersink, Robert Holmes, Dr. John Jernigan, Joe Jones, Chris Kelley, and John Miller.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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