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A conspiracy with medical cannabis licenses?

Recent court filings in the ongoing lawsuits over Alabama’s medical cannabis licensing hint at a conspiracy.

Gavel of judge lying on green leaves of marijuana closeup. Illegal drug production and distribution of drugs concept
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Two medical cannabis companies that have filed suit against the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission appear to believe that the AMCC commissioners and/or staff conspired with one or more applicant companies to improperly influence the licensing process, according to a legal filing submitted in the case on Tuesday. 

The filing, which was submitted by Insa Alabama and Alabama Always in their joint lawsuit against the AMCC, lays out numerous questions the companies want the AMCC to answer and lists documents and materials that it wants the AMCC to produce. 

That production would come in response to an order issued by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Anderson, who ruled last week that the licensing process for integrated facilities should be stalled again and that the plaintiff companies had a right to depose six individuals and make numerous requests for documents and submit several interrogatories that must be answered. 

The AMCC has requested that Anderson revisit that decision, arguing that the order doesn’t align with the legal process for open meetings claims. Anderson on Tuesday also set a hearing date to address the AMCC’s claims – which included a threat to appeal the judge’s decision – for Thursday morning. 

As part of Tuesday’s filing, Insa and Alabama Always, in the first question to the AMCC, ask that it admit that AMCC commissioners, employees or agents engaged in conversations external to the formal meetings with applicants or their representatives related to the applicants or the scoring/voting/ranking process. In the next question, the plaintiffs ask that AMCC admit that staff members encouraged one or more commissioners to vote for specific applicants. 

Those questions fall in line with suspicions that attorneys for the plaintiff companies have hinted at for months now in interviews and court filings and hearings. Those suspicions center on a rigged process that has been purposefully plagued with issues, because it was being improperly manipulated behind the scenes. 

While such allegations are typically chalked up to conspiracy theories, the volume of weird incidents, strange mistakes, inexplicable decisions and violations of laws and regulations have given weight to the charges. 

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Those unending miscues have also left some AMCC commissioners at their wits end. According to two sources close to the Commission, as staff and attorneys scrambled this week to push back against Anderson’s orders for depositions and discovery, some commissioners wanted instead to let the legal process play out and have the questions answered. 

“They’re tired of being part of a process in which their integrity is being questioned, and they believe that if there’s nothing to hide then there’s no reason those depositions shouldn’t take place,” one source said. 

The sources said at least three commissioners are pushing back against the legal action, and that they took specific exception to the threat made in a filing Monday to appeal to a higher court Anderson’s discovery order. 

The request for documents filed on Tuesday lists a trove of records, including all communications between commissioners and staff and any third party related to the scoring/ranking process. 

The court has set a deadline of Jan. 19 for all materials to be turned over and all depositions to be completed. In the meantime, the licensing process for medical marijuana in the state is again at a standstill.

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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