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Thread: June 7th - MM Case Finally in Court

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Yes, more corruption.


    Marijuana Company Accused of Offering Commissioner A Bribe
    by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press on Thursday, Jun. 7, 2018 3:41 pm 2 min read

    The Arkansas Supreme Court building in Little Rock. (Dustin Nevill)

    LITTLE ROCK — An attorney for a company that unsuccessfully applied for a license to grow medical marijuana in Arkansas called the process for permitting such businesses "flawed and corrupt" on Thursday as state Supreme Court justices questioned whether a judge had the power to prevent those licenses from being issued.

    The state attorney general's office, meanwhile, said in a previously sealed court document that a member of the commission accused another unsuccessful applicant of trying to bribe him.

    Justices heard arguments in the state's appeal of a decision that prevents the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission from awarding its first cultivation licenses. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen in March ruled that the licensing process violated a state constitutional amendment voters approved in 2016 legalizing marijuana for patients with certain conditions.

    Griffen ruled in favor of an unsuccessful applicant who had challenged the commission's decision to issue permits to five businesses. The company, Naturalis Health, cited two potential conflicts of interest by members of the commission. It also claimed officials did not verify applicants' assertions that their facilities would be the required distance from churches, schools and day cares. Naturalis ranked 38th out of the 95 applications submitted, officials have said.

    "(The company's) investigation revealed substantial evidence of arbitrary, capricious actions by the commission, evidence that established that the decision was characterized by an abuse of discretion and, in sum, a process that was conducted by the Medical Marijuana Commission that was fundamentally flawed and corrupt," Jay Bequette, an attorney for Naturalis, told justices.

    Attorneys for the state and the companies that were set to receive the licenses, however, argued that Griffen's court didn't have jurisdiction to hear Naturalis' complaint.

    "Agencies make administrative decisions, not adjudications, every day throughout this state and those are not subject to judicial review, and we would submit to you that that area of the law need not be disturbed in this case," said Casey Castleberry, an attorney for Bold Team LLC, one of the five cultivation facilities.

    Griffen's ruling effectively halted the launch of Arkansas' medical marijuana program. State officials in April announced the commission would stop reviewing applications for dispensaries to sell medical marijuana in response to Griffen's ruling. Arkansas has approved more than 5,300 applications for patients to use medical marijuana and will issue registry cards about a month before the drug is expected to be available legally.

    Hours after the hearing, the Supreme Court lifted a protective order and unsealed a letter filed this week by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office detailing an allegation made by a member of the commission that another unsuccessful applicant, Natural State Agronomics, had offered to bribe him. The commissioner, who isn't named in the letter, said he did not accept the bribe but did not report it. In the letter, Rutledge's office said most of the allegations remain unsubstantiated but are being investigated by law enforcement.

    Attorneys for Natural State Agronomics did not respond to messages left Thursday afternoon. The letter said that the commissioner gave the company the second-highest score he awarded and higher than it received from the other four commissioners, but said there was no evidence he based his scoring on the offer. Dr. Carlos Roman, the only member of the panel to award his second-highest score to Natural State Agronomics, did not immediately return a call late Thursday afternoon.

    Justices did not indicate when they would rule.
    Quote Originally Posted by DaBee View Post
    Has anyone read or heard about the MM hearing start yesterday?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008



    LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- An unsuccessful applicant for one of the state's cultivation facilities allegedly tried to bribe a member of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.

    The Arkansas Supreme court unsealed a letter from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge that outlines the commissioner's claim just hours after the justices' hearing over the application scoring process.

    In the letter dated June 5 to Chief Justice Dan Kemp, the commissioner, who was not named in the document, said he did not accept the bribe from Natural State Agronomics.

    We toured the company's facility last September.

    A spokesperson with Natural State Agronomics says, "Natural State Agronomics aggressively denies the false allegations by the state’s Attorney General. Natural State is in discussion with new counsel as to the appropriate venue to remedy these slanderous allegations by the state.”

    The letter states the commissioner gave the company the second-highest score among all of his graded applications.

    According to the score sheets, the commissioner is Dr. Carlos Roman. They show Dr. Roman scored the company a 90, while the four other commissioners scored it in the 70s and 60s.

    An attorney for one of the successful candidates tried to bring up the letter at the end of Thursday's oral arguments.

    "I would also like very briefly, Your Honor, to address the issue that arose within the last 48 hours regarding a letter," said Casey Castleberry, the attorney for BOLD Team, LLC.

    "That's outside the record, and we're confining this argument just to the record," Chief Justice Kemp responded.

    "Thank you, your honor," Castleberry said, then the hearing ended.

    In the letter, Rutledge mentioned there was no specific law or regulation that required Dr. Roman to report a bribe attempt.

    In a statement, the attorney general said she asked the state's highest court to seal the letter because some of the information is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.

    “The integrity of the law is paramount and the Attorney General takes her ethical responsibility to the people of Arkansas and the court system very seriously. Upon learning of the information contained in the letter, the Attorney General personally and promptly informed the proper law enforcement authorities. Because some of that information is the subject of an ongoing law enforcement investigation and may be considered attorney-client privileged, the Attorney General asked the Supreme Court to seal the letter.”

    The governor also weighed in on the bribery allegation, saying he does not see it impacting the supreme court's decision.

    "I think you heard those questions today that focused on the process and the procedures so I think you're going to see two different tracks," said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. "You're going to see that investigation ongoing. We'll see where that leads. Secondly, we'll get the guidance from the court hopefully sooner."

    Dr. Roman is one of two commissioners facing bias complaints since the winners were announced.

    The original purpose of Thursday's hearing was for the seven justices to decide if Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen was correct in putting the state's medical marijuana program on hold in March and asking the commission to rescore the applications.

    The state and the successful candidates argued Judge Griffen took their licenses away without giving them an opportunity to appear in court to defend themselves. However, the unsuccessful candidates fired back that the scoring was completely flawed and corrupt due to conflicts of interest among the two commissioners.

    St. Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, spearheaded most of the state's medical marijuana legislation in the 2017 session. After the hearing, Rep. House likened the proceedings to the process of a state agency selecting a building contractor.

    "They don't always pick the cheapest, and they're not going to pick the most expensive, most experienced one," he said. "They're going to pick the contractors that can fit the bill, do the job, perform the job. Just because a contractor doesn't get selected, doesn't mean they have lost a property interest. They simply didn't win in that competition for one reason or another. Therefore, there's not an adjudication. You didn't disqualify anybody. They just weren't the ones that weren't selected."

    Rep. House expects the supreme court to rule within 30 days. He said there are ultimately two options moving forward: the justices can return the case to Griffen's court to further develop the record or they can dismiss what the judge has done and return it to the commission to proceed with the licensing process.

    "A jury has 12 members, a pair of dice have 12 sides," House said. "Throw them down on the ground, see what numbers you're going to come up with. It can be anything."

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas, United States


    Hmmm, It was not reported at the time. The bribe wasn't big enough, waiting for a better offer?


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