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Lines of commercial-grade cannabis plants in pots inside of an indoor grow site.

Sarah Climaco

Arkansas Judge Wendell Griffen has declared the state’s medical cannabis cultivation licenses “null and void” finding that the state Medical Marijuana Commission disregarded the licensing rules in the voter-approved amendment, according to a 40/29 report.

In the ruling, the judge said that the commission failed to verify the sites’ distances from schools, churches, and daycares, and failed to evaluate whether individuals listed on the applications were ever affiliated with “entities whose corporate status has been revoked for failure to pay franchise taxes.” Griffen also found that two members of the commission had a financial relationship with two people with ownership stakes in the cultivation centers.

“To put it bluntly, the Medical Marijuana Commission and Alcoholic Beverage Control Division have proceeded in a manner that defies due process and the rule of law, rather than in a manner that respects it.” – Judge Griffen, in his opinion, via 40/29

Last week, Griffen had put the state’s licensing process on hold after one of the unsuccessful applicants sued the state.

In the ruling, Griffen said he “takes no joy” in the decision to block the state from issuing the licenses.

“The prospect that Arkansans must now endure more delay before gaining much needed access to locally grown medical marijuana should be unpleasant to anyone concerned about providing relief to people who suffer from serious illnesses.” – Griffen, in his opinion, via the Associated Press

What comes next is unclear. Scott Hardin, the spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration, said in a statement that the agency respects the judge’s decision but referred questions to the state Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office told the AP that they were reviewing the ruling but did not indicate whether they would appeal to the state Supreme Court. Jay Bequette, an attorney for Naturalis Health LLC – the applicant who sued the state – told the AP that the company was “grateful for the judge’s decision” and wanted an independent evaluator to re-score the applications.

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