Breaking News
More () »

Little Rock's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Little Rock, Arkansas | THV11.com

Medical marijuana commissioner says he was bribed by applicant, didn't take it

The Supreme Court is expected to have a decision before the end of the month.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The medical marijuana legal battle continues, as it has made its way to the Arkansas Supreme Court chambers.

The court is tasked to decide whether a judge had the right to stop the state from handing out licenses to grow marijuana.

In mid-March, the Medical Marijuana Commission made a final decision on the five cultivators in the state. They paid their fees and were cleared to get their licenses, but right before an official issuance of the licenses, Judge Wendell Griffen stopped the process with challenges on whether the 95 applications were scored fairly.

Naturalis Health LLC is one of 90 unsuccessful applicants challenging how the commission made their choices.

The hopeful cultivator's attorney, Jay Bequette, argues the commission didn't follow its own rules when scoring applications.

“Failure to verify things, just a process that was inherent with flaws and corruption," said Bequette.

Judge Griffen agreed, stopping the licensing process. The case is now in front of the Arkansas Supreme Court after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appealed Griffen's decision.

Rutledge also released a statement Thursday, saying one of the commissioners was bribed by Natural State Agronomics, an applicant for a cultivation license. The commissioner told Rutledge that he did not accept the bribe, but he did give the applicant the second highest score he awarded to any applicants he rated.

An attorney for one of the successful applicants, Bold Team LLC, argued before the Supreme Court that Griffen didn't have the power to stop the process because the courts shouldn’t be involved in the commission's decisions.

"Both sides well represented. The court has been given a good picture of what the positions are," said Representative Douglas House who has been a key player since medical marijuana’s legalization.

He explains the Supreme Court can either return the case to the circuit court and allow both sides to develop their records more, or the Supreme Court can dismiss Griffen’s decision and allow the Medical Marijuana Commission to proceed with issuing the licenses.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is expected to rule on a decision by the end of the month.

"I think you'll see the Arkansas Supreme Court render a decision very shortly," said House.

The Medical Marijuana Commission has also stopped reviewing applications for businesses to sell medical marijuana because of the ruling. The Supreme Court decision will be a deciding factor for how the commission moves forward with those applications as well.