Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

After court hearing, no resolution yet on medical cannabis litigation

By Jeff Sanders for Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Ongoing litigation continues to slow progress on the distribution of medical cannabis in Alabama. More than two dozen companies are currently involved in lawsuits challenging the licensing process overseen by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.

The backdrop to these disputes is the Compassion Act, enacted by the Alabama Legislature over three years ago with the goal of providing access to medical cannabis for patients suffering from ailments such as chronic pain, cancer-related symptoms, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, and panic disorder. Despite this legislative intent, the implementation has been marred by persistent legal battles.

Several lawyers representing various companies went before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Anderson on Tuesday.  During the hearing Anderson said he would deny the AMCC’s motion to dismiss a new case in the litigation. But he asked parties in the case to propose an order that would allow for investigative hearings on licenses without altogether halting the process of getting products to market. 

Alabama Always, which has already built an integrated facility site in Montgomery, is among the companies denied licenses.

They argue that the AMCC failed to abide by the provisions set up by the Compassion Act, the Alabama Administrative Procedures Act, and the Open Meetings Act. The lawsuit claims that the AMCC did not follow the required procedures and regulations in awarding licenses, leading to the denial of Alabama Always’ bid for an integrated license despite having a cultivation and processing plant in Montgomery.

“That’s why this process has taken so long,” Alabama Always attorney Will Somerville said after the hearing. “The commission has never followed the Administrative Procedure Act, ever. And what I heard in there today was they’re not going to follow it going forward.”

Alabama Always is among more than 30 companies that applied for an integrated license. Those are companies that can cultivate, process, transport, and dispense medical cannabis.  However, by law only five companies can receive a license.  

Anderson also took aim at the law itself.  He said the Compassion Act, by limiting the number of licenses for an integrated facility to only five, created issues for companies denied a license to appeal the decision. 

Somerville agreed, saying the whole process from the initial licensing process to the appeal hearings has been flawed. 

“If I think that so-and-so who got a license isn’t qualified to get a license, I should be able to point that out, go to a hearing with them and challenge them,” Somerville said. “Make them put up or shut up about (whether they can) satisfy the requirements of the act.”

By the end of the 2 ½ hour hearing, Anderson indicated he would issue another temporary restraining order against the AMCC.  He requested the parties involved in the litigation work together on the language for the order.

The continued delay in getting medical cannabis to patients, resulted in efforts from lawmakers to offer a legislative fix this past session.  However, those efforts never made it to vote before the full House or Senate. 


Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia