More allegations of corruption in Arkansas' medical marijuana program
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) —
More allegations of corruption continue to surface regarding the state's medical marijuana program.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, just days ago, revealed one of the top five cultivation applicants may have copied another group's application.
Just earlier this month, Channel 7 reported that a commissioner admitted that a group attempted to bribe him. It’s still unclear what the commission plans on doing with those five licenses, after the Arkansas Supreme Court paved the way for the commission to award those licenses.
David Couch, the attorney and author of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, said the commission should just scrap the process and create a lottery system to pick a new top five.
"I’d put them in a hat and draw out winners right now, because the most important thing that we need is to get the medicine to the patients as soon as possible,” said Couch. “The other thing we need to do...we need to restore the public's confidence in this program and right now with the allegations of bribery, different scoring charts, and conflicts of interest and now the latest revelation one applicant took another applicants application and used it."
The newspaper reported that Delta Medical Cannabis Co. copied Courageous Ann's application. The Department of Finance and Administration, the state agency advising the Medical Marijuana Commission, couldn't comment on specific allegations. A spokesperson pointed to the MMC’s rules that state an applicant can be denied for fraudulent information.
Couch added if the MMC moves forward, and awards the current top five groups a cultivation license, the public will continue to doubt the process.
"It's going to continue to go on forever and I think that it would eliminate the possibility and the proximity of a lot of lawsuits if the commission would restart the process and do a lottery,” Couch said. “If those licenses had actually been awarded then those five companies would have had some sort of interest that they can protect in court, but now since it's not really a property interest, the commission can change their mind and redo the process."
Starting over isn't far-fetched, KATV checked with DF&A and changing the rules and starting over is an option for the commission.
The MMC will meet this Monday to discuss dispensary applications, however, they will not discuss cultivation until the supreme court's decision is finalized the following week.
As of Friday, 5,504 Arkansans have been approved for a medical marijuana card by the department of health.