News and Trends / Cannabis

Trouble In Arkansas: Judge Throws Out Medical Marijuana Licenses

Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana but old-fashioned favoritism by regulators who ignored the rules has stymied the program.
Trouble In Arkansas: Judge Throws Out Medical Marijuana Licenses
Image credit: LPETTET | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Easy Search. Quality Finds. Your partner and digital portal for the cannabis community.
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A judge in Arkansas has ruled that the state commission assigned to award licenses for growing legal medical marijuana awarded the contracts in an unfair manner. It’s led to a legal quagmire in Arkansas, one of only two southern states to legalize medical marijuana. For practical purposes, it’s left Arkansans who want to try medical marijuana out of luck for the foreseeable future.

In his decision, Judge Wendell Griffen barred the state Medical Marijuana Commission from issuing any licenses until the situation is sorted out. That may take some time, as Griffen found the commission was biased and did not follow the proper rules when it awarded five contracts to grow marijuana.

“The Court takes no joy in reaching or declaring this conclusion, nor should anyone else treat the conclusion as anything other than disappointing and sobering,” the judge wrote.

Related: What Better Conditions to Raise Money for Cannabis Businesses Means for Marijuana Entrepreneurs

An Exception In The South

Arkansas voters approved legal medical marijuana in November 2016. The state is allowing its use only for specific medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis and to combat the pain and discomfort of cancer treatments. Voters in Arkansas passed medical marijuana legalization by 53 percent.

The state would allow patients to only use marijuana grown in Arkansas. So far, more than 4,700 people have applied to the program, which will require issuance of a state card. Arkansas and Louisiana are the only two states in the South to approve medical marijuana (unless you count Florida as a southern state).

Essentially, the two states are an island of marijuana legalization in the middle of a large swath where marijuana is not legal for any purpose, medical or recreational. That includes Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.

Related: How Mainstream Is Marijuana? Cannabis Franchises Are Available in Colorado

Rule Of Law Violated

Griffen, who issued a 28-page order, was ruling on a lawsuit filed by an unsuccessful applicant who wanted to grow marijuana in the Natural State. The lawsuit charged that the application process contained scoring irregularities, bias, conflicts of interest and violation of rules.

Griffen, on the whole, saw it that way, too. He said the process did not respect the rule of law. He stopped the awarding of the five contracts, which was supposed to happen in March. The five applicants had paid $100,000 in fees to apply and put up a $500,000 bond.

The state can appeal the decision, but even marijuana advocates don’t want that. David Couch, the Little Rock attorney who helped get medical marijuana legalized, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he wanted the state just to restart the application process.

That way, medical marijuana patients could legally get cannabis faster, Couch said. Even Griffen noted that no matter what the state chooses to do, the fact that Arkansans will now have to wait even longer for access to medical marijuana “should be unpleasant to anyone concerned about providing relief to people who suffer from serious illnesses."

Follow on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.

By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
Learn More

Latest on Green Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any article to save to your queue.

Podcasts episodes coming soon for

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any podcast episode on to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). The table below describes in more detail the data being collected. By giving your consent below, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Cookie Policy.

Name Category
Google Ad Serving, Ad Targeting, Analytics/Measurement, Optimisation
Rubicon Ad Serving
Teads Ad Serving
Nativo Ad Serving
Teads Ad Serving
New Relic Analytics/Measurement
Log Entries Analytics/Measurement
Sailthru Content Customization