Alabama Judge Dismisses Verano Lawsuit Against Marijuana Regulators

Judge: Business permits are not a property right.

An Alabama state judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Chicago-based Verano Holdings Corp. (CSE: VRNO) (OTCQX: VRNOF), in which the multistate operator tried to claim that it was wronged when the state’s medical marijuana commission rescinded a business permit it initially granted the company.

Circuit Judge James Anderson dismissed the suit and wrote in his ruling that the business permits are not a property right, WSFA News 12 reported, and that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission was perfectly within its rights to change course.

The lawsuit arose after the commission initially awarded Verano an integrated facility license in June, before freezing the licensing process of its own accord over some internal concerns. The commission then redid the licensing in August, and Verano was one of just two businesses that were not re-awarded their original permits.

Verano sued. But Anderson dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it can’t be filed again.

Verano could still apply in Alabama’s second MMJ licensing round, but there won’t be any “integrated facility” licenses available at that point. Only five integrated licenses, which allow their owners to grow, manufacture, and sell cannabis products, are allowed in the state, meaning they likely will be the most valuable. Other permits are solely for cultivation, retail, or other parts of the supply chain.

A spokesperson for Verano did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The company previously was vocal about the loss of the license, and said in the immediate aftermath it was “disappointed and frustrated” and that the change in course was “arbitrary and capricious.”

CEO George Archos even penned an open letter to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, asserting that its lawsuit was an attempt to “restore order and due process” to the state’s MMJ licensing system, and noting that the company was ready to invest up to $40 million into Alabama cannabis infrastructure.

The commission is still facing other active lawsuits over the medical marijuana licensing system, but the Verano ruling could have a direct bearing on those because the judge found the commission has legal authority to act as it has thus far, WSFA reported.

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