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Plaintiffs in Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Include Big Names in Business

2 min read

The lawsuit that led Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan “Chip” Welch to strike down 27 state laws on medical marijuana was filed by Good Day Farm Arkansas LLC, a Pine Bluff cannabis cultivator, and Capital City Medicinals LLC of Little Rock.

The defendants are the state of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration and its Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

The ABC, along with the Arkansas Department of Health, enforces medical marijuana regulations.

Good Day Farm Arkansas is owned by scores of stakeholders, led by three with 8.5% each: Alabama-based trucking CEO Reid Dove, former USA Drug CEO Joe Courtright and Wendy LaFrance, daughter-in-law of the late Steven LaFrance Sr., another former USA Drug CEO. Three members of Little Rock’s Stephens family have 3.8% each: John Stephens, Warren Miles Stephens and Laura Stephens.

An ownership change at Capital City Medicinals approved by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission in March 2022 left prominent Louisiana shipbuilder Donald Thomas “Boysie” Bollinger as the top owner with 25.51%.

Ownership by Arkansans was until last week led by Todd Denton of Godfather Investments LLC at 9.18%. Five Arkansans, all prominent in the state’s business world, each held a 6.38% stake: Dianna Huchingson, Larry Middleton, Mark Middleton, Kimberly Brockinton and Wendy LaFrance. But the MMC was considering allowing Denton to sell his stake, an agenda item at its regular meeting on Thursday, after Arkansas Business went to press. The proposal was to have other current shareholders buy Denton’s stake.

In the lawsuit, Judge Welch agreed with the plaintiffs that the Arkansas General Assembly overstepped its authority by changing a state constitutional amendment, Amendment 98 of 2016, which was approved by voters and legalized medical marijuana in the state.

Welch wrote that lawmakers cannot “amend the Constitution unilaterally. It requires the General Assembly to submit proposed amendments of amendments to the people” to vote on.

The case was filed in February 2022 by plaintiffs’ attorneys Stephen R. Lancaster, Gary D. Marts Jr. and Erika Gee of the Wright Lindsey & Jennings firm of Little Rock. The state was represented by Arkansas Assistant Attorney General Kesia Morrison.

The attorney general’s office confirmed last week that no appeal has been filed, but no final court order is in place yet.

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