A Pulaski County circuit judge took a whiff of a medical marijuana licensing dispute last month and promptly passed it on.
Judge Timothy D. Fox kicked a potential dispensary’s lawsuit from Pulaski to Carroll County Circuit Court on July 6, sidestepping a widening debate on whether the state Medical Marijuana Commission should properly grant additional dispensary licenses to runners-up in the state’s initial judging process or seek new applications as it looks to expand retail sites.
Carroll County Holdings Inc. of Eureka Springs, doing business as Eureka Green, is suing the commission, the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration and its Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. Fox noted that the state entities could be sued in Pulaski County, but wrote in his order that Carroll County taxpayers and leaders “have a substantial interest in this matter being conducted in Carroll County.”
The commission granted original dispensary licences to top-scoring applicants in each of eight zones around the state, making room for 32 dispensaries in all. Eureka Green was the fifth-highest scorer in northwest Arkansas’ Zone 1, and as top runner-up it argues that it “must be awarded a license for Zone 1 … if another license is to be awarded.”
The company says it never withdrew its license application and was illegally refunded half of its application fee, disqualifying it as an active applicant for any future licenses.
The state began granting additional licenses for dispensaries and cultivation sites this year, including one for Carpenter Farms in Grady, which got its license in June after suing the state over the licensing process.
The commission granted four other dispensary licenses on July 1, to Natural Root Wellness in Washington County, Green Cross Cannabis in Fulton County, MissCo Cannabis Dispensary in Mississippi County and Native Green Wellness in Pulaski County.
Native Green’s Pulaski County site will be separate from a dispensary in Hensley that operated under the Native Green name. It is now called Hensley Wellness Center.
Disputes over cultivation licenses have also wound up in court recently, with all five originally licensed cultivators suing the state to stop plans for issuing up to three additional licenses.
Meanwhile, the new industry’s customer base continues to grow, with the state reporting record sales to the state’s 71,163 licensed patients as of July 31.