The Arkansas Supreme Court tomorrow will hear oral arguments on Judge Wendell Griffen’s decision tossing the award of marijuana cultivation permits. But intrigue surrounds events this week.
The Griffen case alone is a legal thicket, with so many winners and losers and so many allegations of irregularities in the scoring process, connections between the Medical Marijuana Commision and some of the applicants, legislative connections,
Then came this: The attorney general yesterday asked to file a document under seal for reasons “apparent on the face of the tendered letter.” Today, the Supreme Court said it could be filed, at least temporarily, out of the view of the public, but it could be distributed to counsel of record in the case Those lawyers may not show the document to others, including their clients. The Court asked to hear from the parties about the document.
Naturalis Health, one of the losing applicants for a cultivation permit, argued for disclosure of the document in the interest of transparency. Attorneys for three winning applicants — Natural State Wellness Enterprises, LLC, Delta Medical Cannabis Company, LLC, and Bold Team, LLC — had already argued it was too late to add additional information to the record and the document should be excluded.
Might we conclude the document throws more dirt on the application process given how the parties line up?
This wrinkle comes amid persistent rumors about the existence of important new information relative to potential commissioner conflicts. No substantiation exists for that rumor as yet, except the circumstantial mystery document. However, a significant pile of documents has begun to emerge from the public record that was discovered after the Griffen trial. They raise questions about the sufficiency of commission vetting of applications and about the completion and scoring of applications.
The winners like the status quo. The losers would like to see the applications rescored, preferably by an independent group of the commission’s choosing. That would delay the advent of medical marijuana, but there’s an undeniable taint on the process at this point.
UPDATE: The Democrat-Gazette confirmed that the Supreme Court put under seal a response from a losing applicant, Natural State Agronomics, which might mean its response made a reference sufficient to give some idea of what the document is about.
Oral argument is at 10 a.m.