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Court grants temporary restraining order on cannabis dispensary licenses

The ruling effectively puts a hold on the issuance of licenses in the dispensary category.

Wooden gavel of judge and sound block surrounded by marijuana leaves on table. Illegal growth of psychoactive cannabis plant and drugs spreading
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In a turn of events late Thursday, Montgomery Circuit Judge James Anderson issued a temporary restraining order affecting the state’s medical cannabis industry. This development comes in the wake of a contentious legal battle involving Yellowhammer Medical Dispensaries, LLC, Pure by Sirmon Farms, LLC, Alabama Always, LLC, and the State of Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.

The root of the legal conflict lies in the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission’s recent awarding of medical cannabis business licenses. According to the Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hal Compassion Act, the Commission awarded a limited number of Dispensary and Cultivator licenses on December 1 and 12. However, several applicants, including Yellowhammer and Pure, who were not granted licenses, have raised allegations of procedural violations by the Commission.

The court, after hearing extensive arguments on Thursday, concluded that there was a reasonable chance of success on the merits of the claims against the Commission. The judgment particularly highlighted the Commission’s alleged failure to adhere to its own scoring, averaging, and ranking rules.

Yellowhammer successfully demonstrated an immediate and irreparable injury due to the Commission’s decision to award its maximum number of Dispensary licenses, leaving them with no meaningful avenue for review. Conversely, Pure’s motion was denied due to the existence of an adequate administrative remedy for their category, which did not exceed the number of available licenses.

The court found that granting immediate injunctive relief would not cause hardship to the Commission and that the public interest and balance of equities favored Yellowhammer’s plea.

The ruling effectively puts a hold on the issuance of licenses in the Dispensary category, altering the course of the Commission’s planned actions. This decision underscores the ongoing complexities and legal intricacies surrounding the burgeoning medical cannabis industry in Alabama.

The case is set to have far-reaching implications for the state’s cannabis regulatory framework, highlighting the need for transparent and fair licensing processes in this rapidly evolving sector.

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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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