State medical marijuana regulators are violating a judge’s order to revoke the license of illegally approved cannabis farms in northwest Arkansas by refusing to immediately strip the company of the license they were told, attorneys for Little Rock claiming they deserve their right to confirm the license in an emergency motion Tuesday. They warn that the organizers are trying to “pull the wool over the eyes of the court” and “mislead” the judge.
The cultivation license is the last of eight authorized by a state constitutional amendment that voters passed in 2016 to legalize medical marijuana. It was awarded to Bennett “Storm” Nolan, a Fort Smith entrepreneur whose Fort Smith-based River Valley Production LLC began growing marijuana last year and began selling it in February as River Valley Relief Creation.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright ruled 13 days ago that Nolan and company were not and should not be eligible candidates, but for marijuana regulators who, while making others up, ignore their own rules to grant certification. He demanded that the organizers take the license and properly grant it to a legitimate candidate.
The judge was acting in a 2021 lawsuit brought by a company that claimed it was wrongfully passed around for the license, 2600 Holdings operating as Southern Roots Cultivation.
On Tuesday, Southern Roots attorney Aptin Mahdizadegan called Wright to step in again, noting in an emergency motion that rather than simply revoke the license as initially promised, the organizers substituted an administrative process that wouldn’t end until the end of the month. It could give Nolan and River Valley another chance to claim the license, despite the judge’s ruling.
Furthermore, Southern Roots wants the judge to disdain Doralee Chandler, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration, the executive arm of medical marijuana regulators.
Mehdizadegan noted that the judge found that the organizers made curious efforts in favor of Bennett and River Valley, noting that once again Chandler appears to be acting in favor of Bennett.
Director Chandler is doing everything she can to bring the findings back. Instead of moving in the appropriate manner in revoking the unconstitutionally granted license, Director Chandler is now attempting to (1) rule on this court’s findings on facts and legal conclusions; and (2) provide Mr. Nolan with an end, Mehdizadegan is mentioned in the seven-page motion and the supplementary 22-page summary. Director Chandler tries again to rinse and repeat [River Valley’s] Unconstitutional application through another administrative cycle. Mr. Nolan W [River Valley] (which does not exist) have no administrative rights at a hearing.”
Southern Roots is asking the judge to put the case on the fast track to resolution by giving the state defendants until the end of the week to respond to its assertions.
The accusations of southern roots come as the Medical Marijuana Commission reported patients spent around $23.4m on £4,588 in October at 38 state dispensaries. The biggest seller was the Natural Relief Dispensary in Sherwood at £443, while Ward 443 in Hot Springs sold at £414. Overall, six dispensaries sold more than £200 in October, the commission reported. Sales tax on medical marijuana was $2.8 million in October, for a total state revenue of $26.8 million.
As of November 1, patients had paid $228.4m for £41,188 of medical marijuana, with sales expected to reach a record $275m if the sales pattern continues, the agency said. The state health department reported 90,148 active patient cards.