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Opinion | The Alabama Cannabis Commission is not a victim

AMCC director John McMillan tried to paint his commission as a victim of frivolous lawsuits, but such a characterization defies logic and the truth.

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Do you remember that time Sean Spicer, the original spin doctor for former President Donald Trump, burst into the press room and insisted that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest in recorded history? 

He railed on and on like a madman, ranting and raving about the size of the crowd and ignoring the clear photographic evidence that the crowd was nowhere near the largest. Even Trump backers were like, Dude, what are you doing here – we see the pics. 

It was preposterous. 

John McMillan had the same vibe last week on “Capital Journal,” as he insisted that Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Commission, for which he is the director, was just befuddled by the ongoing litigation that has halted its licensing process and that most of the lawsuits are frivolous (He didn’t specify which ones aren’t frivolous).

“Nobody is more frustrated than our commission and our staff, and certainly, I am, because frankly, in my opinion, most of these lawsuits are frivolous,” McMillan said during the broadcast. “But they have been used as a delaying tactic … I believe that a lot of the litigation came from the fact that, ‘Well, let’s just block everything. Let’s just keep the commission from being able to do anything. Let’s just shut this program down through the courts and try to get something settled in the legislature. Just stop anything from happening until I try to get something through the legislature.’” 

Sure, man. 

I suppose we’re just supposed to forget that the AMCC – for which McMillan, again, is the director – has admitted twice to screwing up the process by failing to follow the laws as written and by so totally botching a scoring system that none of the grades can even be used at this point. 

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And we should also overlook the fact that the AMCC, while attempting to award these licenses, committed the most obvious violations of the Alabama Open Meetings Act that I’ve ever witnessed. This was a public body that went into an executive session to hold what should have been a public discussion on licensing – a clear violation of the OMA – and then voted on the licenses in the closed executive session – another violation – and then announced the winners in the executive session before announcing them publicly – yet another violation. 

For all of these reasons, the AMCC has been sued repeatedly and successfully. And because the commission has flatly refused numerous times to completely correct its mistakes, it remains in litigation that has stalled the licensing process. 

Look, it is embarrassing that more than three years after the legislature passed the legislation allowing for medical marijuana we still don’t have medication making its way to patients. After all, Mississippi passed its law after we did and they’re up and running. 

But sour grapes only get you so far in the legal world. At some point, for these lawsuits to still be lingering and the process still stalled out, there has to be good reason. And there is. 

McMillan’s and his staff are an absolute trainwreck. 

From the very beginning of this process, there have been weird occurrences and odd little snafus that never quite could be explained. Like, for example, why some companies were allowed different options to get around an attachment limitation. Or why one commissioner was seemingly so involved in the strange scoring process handled by the University of South Alabama. 

Speaking of which, how about those weird scores? And the odd disparities between graders? 

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And weirdest of all: Why won’t the AMCC hold a true public meeting – discuss the scores and its reviews of companies in public, vote in public and announce the winners in public? 

The lawsuits have asked only for such a public meeting and for the AMCC to follow the laws as written by the legislature. That’s it. 

The people of Alabama deserve nothing less. Period.

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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