Alabama Medical Cannabis Regulators Seek To Dismiss Verano’s Licensing Lawsuit

“Is there any circumstance that you can think of that would allow the commission to claw back the award—let me ask, questions of fraud?”

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) Tuesday asked a Montgomery circuit court to dismiss a lawsuit from Chicago-based firm Verano Holdings.

Verano, which has an Alabama chapter, sued the commission in August, alleging the AMCC cannot revoke licenses and that its exercise of power “both exceeds and conflicts with the authority provided to it by the Alabama Legislature.”

The firm received an integrated facility in the first round of awards in June. It did not get a license in a second round earlier this month, after the commission put the awards on hold over questions on how the applications were initially scored.

Verano argued that while the commission’s rules and the Administrative Procedure Act establish a method for challenging the AMCC’s decision to deny and award licenses, it does not give the ability for the AMCC to “void” previously awarded licenses on its own motion.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Anderson asked Verano’s lawyers during a hearing on Tuesday whether they were arguing that the commission does not have authority to withdraw licenses under any circumstance after they have awarded a license.

“Is there any circumstance that you can think of that would allow the commission to claw back the award—let me ask, questions of fraud?” Anderson asked Saxon Main, attorney for Verano Holdings.

Main said that there’s a statute that says they can revoke a license after there is proper notice and a hearing.

Verano had the highest scores in both rounds of awards. The firm was awarded a license on June 12, but the AMCC put a pause on the process following several “inconsistencies” in scoring the applications.

Verano’s score increased after inconsistencies of license awards were addressed, but they did not receive a license when the commission re-awarded the licenses on August 10.

Anderson said he wanted to resolve Verano’s motion to dismiss before continuing with Alabama Always’ lawsuit on alleged Open Meetings Act violation. He expects to rule on the motion Wednesday afternoon.

The hearing for AMCC’s alleged Open Meetings Act will continue next week.

This story was first published by the Alabama Reflector.

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Photo elements courtesy of rawpixel and Philip Steffan.

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