New Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) chairman Rex Vaughn defended the commission's process of awarding 24 licenses at a meeting last week.  

Alabama Always, one of the denied applicants last week, requested the actions of the commission on August 10 be stayed, including the licenses awarded, for "likely violations of the Open Meetings Act by the Commission" in a filing on Tuesday in an ongoing lawsuit against the AMCC.

The allegation focuses on the commission's use of an "executive session" where members are allowed to meet in private temporarily before resuming the portion of the meeting open to the public. 

The Alabama Open Meetings Act allows for government entities to go into an executive session under certain justifications, such as discussing the general reputation and character of an individual, pending litigation, and employee disciplinary matters.

Vaughn said in an affidavit filed on Wednesday, "The matters discussed during this aspect of the meeting pertained to the general reputation and character and the professional competence  of individuals in respect to their positions with the applicants, and this occurred as (William) Webster (an attorney for AMCC) had stated it would during his declaration prior to the Executive Session." 

"There were no votes asked for or taken regarding this aspect of the meeting. At the conclusion of this aspect of the meeting, Commission members were asked to write down their nominations for all six categories of licenses," he continued. "Without further discussion or vote, and without sharing which applicants they were selecting, Commissioners (including myself) wrote down their nominees for license in each category, just as they could have done at any time prior to the meeting. The Commissioners then returned from the Executive Session and turned in their nominations in the open meeting; those nominations were collated and then voting took place. Opportunity was had, once again, for discussion as to each nominated entity in each category; Commissioners were able to make a motion to vote on any nominee in any category prior to voting, although very little further discussion of any nominee occurred."

Vaughn added, "No voting was done secretly, nor by 'secret ballot,' either in Executive Session or otherwise."

A hearing on the Alabama Always lawsuit against AMCC is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

The annual license fees range from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on the type.

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