Alabama Always, a company seeking a cannabis business license, filed another lawsuit against the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) on Friday.

The lawsuit comes two days after Alabama Always officials pitched to the AMCC on Wednesday about why they should receive an integrated facility license. AMCC awarded cultivator, processor, secure transporter, state testing laboratories, and dispensary licenses on December 2. They're scheduled to award five integrated facility licenses on Tuesday.

Integrated facilities are allowed to cultivate, process, dispense, transport, and sell medical cannabis.

AMCC settled litigation brought by some applicant cannabis companies, including Alabama Always, in late November. The AMCC agreed not to use a scoring and evaluation system it used in previous rounds where licenses were awarded and then rescinded due to lawsuits. In exchange, lawsuits brought by unsuccessful applicants against AMCC would be dismissed in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Alabama Always's new lawsuit filed on Friday alleges, "the Commission has adopted a voting procedure that gives a minority of Commission members the ability to effectively veto the judgment of the majority."

"The procedure requires each Commissioner to rank all 36 applicants for integrated licenses in descending order. The staff will then average the rankings to obtain a single composite ranking, and the average ranking thus generated will determine the order in which the applicants are considered for licenses," Will Somerville, an attorney representing Alabama Always, said in a complaint. "This ranking system allows individual Commissioners to "blackball" or eliminate some companies from further consideration if they give that company a very high ranking of 30 or more. There are only five licenses to be awarded. With the ranking system that is in place, the five companies selected will each have to have a very low score, meaning they were ranked very highly qualified by all of the Commissioners or nearly all of the Commissioners. But if a small minority of Commissioners rated any of those applicants between "30" and "36" instead of closer to "1," then that applicant's average rating would be increased dramatically, even if 9 of the 12 Commissioners ranked that applicant as a "1." That company would be eliminated from consideration by a minority of the Commissioners. Empowering individual Commissioners with the authority to "blackball" or eliminate some companies from consideration violates the principle that only a majority of the Commission is allowed to make decisions and award or not award these licenses."

Somerville also alleges AMCC staff members have "reportedly" stated that Alabama Always will receive a license "over [their] dead body." The lawsuit doesn't cite who they were quoting. 

During Alabama Always's presentation, a video listed Robert Tornello as the group's "Master Grower." His company, 3 Boys Farm, in Florida, was listed in "commercial horticulture or agronomic production experience" in their application to AMCC. 3 Boys Farm received a medical marijuana license from Florida in 2017 after suing the state of Florida in 2016. The company sold the license in December 2018. Two lawsuits between Tornello and his former cannabis business partners, Richard LaRoche and Edward Chiles, are still ongoing in Hillsborough County, Florida, according to online court records.

Other investors in the company include Deputy State Superintendent of Instruction for the Alabama Department of Education Dr. Daniel Boyd, Teddy and Linda Gentry, former State Rep. Richard Lindsey (D-Centre), James Dixon III, former Montgomery City Councillor Ben McNeill, Shannon Millican, and Mike Bruce, according to the presentation.

An AMCC spokesperson declined to comment about ongoing litigation. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Montgomery County Circuit Court on Monday afternoon.

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