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Medical Cannabis Commission awards integrated licenses after rule changes

Time will tell whether these five awards stick, as all previous attempts to do so have been nullified after litigation.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission meets. Jacob Holmes/APR

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission has once again awarded licenses for companies to produce medical cannabis from seed to sale.

The companies awarded licenses Tuesday are Sustainable Alabama, Trulieve, Wagon Trail Med-Serv, Flowerwood Medical Cannabis and Specialty Medical Products of Alabama.

“First, I thank all of the integrated facility applicants for their diligent efforts throughout this lengthy licensing process.  Second, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how much I appreciate the commitment and hard work of  each Commissioner as we have navigated through this phase of the program,” said Commission Chairman Rex Vaughn. “The result of these efforts has led to the award of licenses to entities who the Commission has determined are well-suited to serve patients through Alabama’s medical cannabis program.”

Time will tell whether these five awards stick, as all previous attempts to do so have been nullified after litigation.

While those initial lawsuits have been settled in response to the AMCC changing its procedures, more lawsuits have already been filed as the commission has undertaken its latest round of awards.

The commissioners followed a similar track to how they have voted in recent proceedings, with each commissioner filling out a ranking of 33 applicants, which staff collated into an overall ranking.

Sustainable Alabama easily came out as the top option on that list, with four of nine present commissioners ranking it as their first choice and eight of nine ranking it in the top six.

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Only commissioner Jimmie Harvey, an oncologist, broke rank with the other commissioners, ranking Sustainable near the bottom of his list at 29.

The commission voted 8-1 to award a license to Sustainable, but Vaughn was the lone holdout, not Harvey. Vaughn had ranked Sustainable Alabama sixth.

With the law requiring the commission to issue a license to at least one company with no less than a 51 percent minority ownership, the commission voted to choose the minority applicant first.

As Southeast Cannabis Company had the highest ranking overall of minority applicants, the commission first took a vote for the company.

That vote failed 5-4, despite two commissioners including Vaughn ranking it as the first choice overall, not just out of minority applicants. No other company had multiple first-place votes. Alabama Always, Bragg Canna and Insa Alabama had the other three first-place votes.

Former judge Price had Southeast Cannabis ranked 32 on his list, the largest disparity between any two commissioners on a specific company.

With Southeast being denied, the commission took a vote on Trulieve and approved the company as its minority licensee on a 6-3 vote.

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Wagon Trail and Flowerwood were approved unanimously.

With only one vote remaining, Price attempted to nominate Alabama Always, who he had ranked second and Harvey had ranked first. However, after some discussion, staff told Price there would have to be a motion on whether to take up a vote on the company out of order.

That motion failed for lack of a second, and  Alabama Always was ultimately left on the outside looking in.

Jemmstone Alabama looked like the shoo-in to be the fifth applicant awarded, ranking fourth overall among commissioners, but failed to even get a motion for consideration.

Looking at individual scores from commissioners reveals why: not a single commissioner considered the company a top five applicant despite most having it in the top 10.

The commission moved on to Specialty Medical Products, which was in the top five for four commissioners and was approved on an 8-1 vote. Price was the lone dissenter.

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

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