A recent lawsuit filed this week claims it is illegal for Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) Chairman Dr. Steven Stokes to serve simultaneously on the commission and as a member of the board of trustees at the University of South Alabama.
However, Stokes said on Thursday he has no plans to resign.
"I'm not going to resign because that would be implying that I've done something wrong and I haven't," Stokes told WTVY.
Stokes told the outlet those who vetted and confirmed his nomination knew he served on the university's board.
"If that had been a problem, they would have said something then," Stokes said. "We have some very wealthy people fighting over a lot of money and they've got very good lawyers."
According to a legal filing by plaintiff Kimberly Holcomb on Tuesday, the law creating the AMCC prohibits any commissioner from also being a "public official," and thus, his appointment should be declared illegal and void.
"As a trustee of USA, Dr. Stokes is a "public official" that cannot serve as a commission member under the Act," William Somerville, Holcomb's attorney, said in the filing.
A "public official" under Alabama law is defined as "any person elected to public office, whether or not that person has taken office, by the vote of the people at state, county, or municipal level of government or their instrumentalities, including governmental corporations, and any person appointed to a position at the state, county, or municipal level of government or their instrumentalities, including governmental corporations."
Somerville is also an attorney representing Alabama Always, a medical cannabis company, in a separate lawsuit against AMCC.
Somerville asked the court for a hearing before the AMCC's next meeting on Aug. 10 on whether Stokes's spot on the commission while serving on the board of trustees of USA is legal.
Licenses were previously awarded by the commission last month. Shortly after the licenses were announced, the commission put a stay on proceedings due to discoveries by commission staff of "potential inconsistencies in the tabulation of scoring data." The commission also suspended the issuance of previously awarded licenses. Multiple cannabis companies, including Alabama Always, that didn't receive licenses from the commission in June, are currently suing AMCC.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
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