The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) hopes the third time awarding licenses will be the charm next week.

An AMCC attorney requested a Montgomery County Circuit Judge allow the commission to attempt to satisfy "criticisms unwarrantedly leveled" about alleged Open Meetings Act violations at a previous meeting. 

Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Anderson placed a temporary restraining order last week on any new AMCC proceedings until at least August 28 over concerns the commission might have violated the state's Open Meetings Act during its meeting on August 10.

The AMCC awarded 24 licenses at the meeting. Attorneys for companies that didn't receive a license argued in court recently that the commission's use of an executive session to nominate some companies violates the Open Meetings Act.

William Webster, an attorney for AMCC, requested on Monday a scheduled preliminary injunction hearing be delayed and a stay on proceedings lifted until after the commission's next meeting on August 31.

"While AMCC disagrees with said criticism and contends that its actions during the meeting of August 10 were at all times in accordance with law, it nevertheless understands that these unnecessary challenges are costing precious time for Alabama citizens who need medical cannabis. Therefore, in an effort to avoid protracted litigation that would further delay AMCC's processes to the detriment of Alabama citizens, AMCC hereby seeks a continuance of the August 28 preliminary injunction hearing orally announced by the Court at the TRO hearing held August 17 and confirmed by order of this Court entered August 21," Webster said in the filing. "Specifically, AMCC requests that the Court continue the preliminary injunction hearing until after August 31, 2023, the date of AMCC's next scheduled meeting, so that AMCC may address the criticisms unwarrantedly leveled against it by voiding the licenses awarded August 10 and re-awarding licenses without going into executive session. It is anticipated that this course of action by AMCC would moot the pending Motion and Complaint filed by Plaintiff and the criticizing Intervenors and preclude the need for a response by AMCC or a preliminary hearing."

A hearing on the continuance motion by AMCC is set for Thursday morning at Montgomery County Courthouse. 

In other news, Verano Alabama, LLC, the only company initially awarded an integrated facility license in June that didn't get a license the second time around in August, filed a separate lawsuit against AMCC in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Monday and asked the court to reverse the commission's decision in August to void Verano's awarded license.

Verano Alabama is a venture of the multi-state cannabis company Verano Holdings.

In an email, a Verano spokesperson told 1819 News, "Verano is a national pioneer in the medical cannabis industry, who twice scored as the state's top applicant for an Integrated Facilities License. In June, our company was rightly awarded a license, paid our state-issued invoice, and began to take steps to invest a minimum of $40 million in communities across Alabama." 

"Verano Alabama's filing seeks to restore order and due process to the licensing process, consistent with the state's laws and regulations," a Verano spokesperson said. "Across the country, there are examples of what happens when objective blind scoring metrics and carefully crafted administrative procedures are cast aside for personal or political preferences, which resulted in years of litigation and lost opportunity to serve patients in need."

The Verano spokesperson said, "The best way to get the state's program rollout back on track is to follow the law and reset this process back where it rightly began in June when the Commission made a final vote to award licenses." 

"There is no legal or regulatory basis for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to habitually seek to void, re-do, or cast aside validly awarded licenses to obtain the preferred outcome of selected bidders or individuals. Verano Alabama is ready to put our $40 million to work, creating jobs, growing best-in-class products, and serving patients across the state," the Verano spokesperson said.

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