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New lawsuit filed challenging medical cannabis licensing system

The suit contends the system enables a few Commissioners to exert disproportionate influence, effectively excluding applicants, allowing even a single commissioners to “blackball” an applicant.

The logo of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. STOCK

In a significant legal challenge, Alabama Always, LLC, has filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, alleging that the Commission’s method of selecting medical cannabis licensees is unlawful. The suit, lodged in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County on December 8, questions the fairness and legality of the Commission’s licensing process under Alabama law.

Alabama Always, an applicant for an integrated medical cannabis license, is contesting specific sections of the Alabama Administrative Code. The plaintiff contends that these rules permit a minority of Commission members to exercise veto power over the majority in licensee selection, contradicting the principle of majority vote decision-making.

The lawsuit details the Commission’s voting procedure, which requires Commissioners to rank all applicants for integrated licenses. According to the plaintiff, this system enables a few Commissioners to exert disproportionate influence, effectively excluding applicants, allowing even a single commissioners to “blackball” an applicant.

Alabama Always argues that this approach violates the principle of majority rule and open discussion as mandated by the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act (AAPA). The company also asserts it is likely the sole applicant fulfilling all integrated license criteria, and accuses some Commissioners of attempting to block their licensure.

The lawsuit seeks a court declaration that the Commission’s rule is invalid under the AAPA and an injunction against its implementation. Alabama Always maintains that the rule exceeds the Commission’s legal authority and was enacted without proper rulemaking procedures.

This case highlights the legal intricacies and challenges in Alabama’s nascent medical cannabis sector. The lawsuit’s outcome could profoundly impact the state’s licensing process and medical cannabis industry, and prompts wider questions about power dynamics in state commissions and the importance of procedural integrity in government decision-making.

Alabama Always is seeking an injunction to avert what it deems as irreversible harm to its rights and interests, underscoring the importance of equitable and lawful processes in awarding medical cannabis licenses.

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A hearing is set for Monday at 4:00 PM in Judge James Anderson’s court, in Montgomery. 

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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