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A new appeal in the long running legal battle over Alabama’s medical cannabis

An appeal was filed by the plaintiffs and negotiations have been stopped, meaning legal medical cannabis could be a long time coming.

Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission

A group of cannabis companies engaged in a lawsuit against Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Commission filed an appeal Thursday with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, challenging a lower court’s decision not to stop the Commission from using rules and requirements that allegedly violate the Alabama Administrative Procedures Act. 

The appeal, which was technically filed by Specialty Medical Products of Alabama, LLC., asks the Appeals Court to overturn the ruling of Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Anderson and prohibit the AMCC from relying on scores from an application process that the plaintiffs claim violated the AAPA. Anderson denied the request for an injunction on the AMCC last Friday.

“We believe that the (AMCC’s) scoring system is improper and exceeds the commission’s authority under the Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act,” said attorney William Sommerville, who represents Alabama Always. “The commission should be barred from using the scores, as the scoring system appears designed to award licenses to applicants who just simply cannot cultivate cannabis in 60 days, as the statute mandates. Dispensing with the scores is the best way to make sure patients in Alabama who can benefit from medical cannabis get the help they so desperately need.”  

The appeal is the latest action in a long-running legal battle over the AMCC’s beleaguered licensing process, which has been exposed as deeply flawed and potentially unfair to a number of applicants. 

The appeal specifically mentions the issues with the scoring system the AMCC used to evaluate applications and a 10-megabyte file size limitation that was arbitrarily applied. These issues have been the crux of the lawsuits filed by numerous cannabis companies. 

AMCC has admitted that its original scoring of applications contained significant flaws, yet it also still plans to use the scores in its third attempt at evaluating the applicants. The Commission has twice awarded licenses only to come back and declare a do-over after legal action drew attention to major problems. 

The Commission also apparently violated the Alabama Open Meetings Act as it sought to keep secret the process by which it awarded licenses and held all deliberations in an executive session.  

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A source told APR that the ultimate outcome now apparently rests with the courts. Attorneys for the two sides broke off settlement talks earlier this week and there are no plans to resume, according to the source. 

As it stands, Alabama’s goal of getting medical marijuana into patients’ hands by early 2024 is all but shot.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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