AT COMMISSION MEETING: Two commissioners participated by phone.

The Medical Marijuana Commission issued responses today to questions raised at a recent public session and formally approved denials of cultivation permit applications that could clear the way for further court action.

Generally speaking, the commission in response to various questions said it was independent and dedicated to fairness; that it would investigate “material” changes in ownership of successful applicants, and that it would consider issuing more cultivation permits if it was determined that demand required a greater supply.

Asked how the growers would obtain seeds to grow cannabis, the commission said that was a question for the growers. It was noted that the state law provides an exemption from state criminal marijuana laws for transportation in-state of seeds intended for use by a licensed facility. The commission generally dodged specific complaints about the handling of some applications, saying the appropriate place to mount those objections would be in court.

Chairwoman Rhonda Tillman-Henry, is not responsible itself for complaints made against permit applicants and licensees, but the work of agency staff.

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Tillman-Henry said the commission should invite those with cultivation permits to attend the next meeting to give an update on progress in construction.

State Reps. Reginald Murdock
and Vivian Flowers addressed the commission to continue complaints about the disqualification of the Carpenter Farms Medical Group application for a cultivation permit because of questions raised by staff about ownership information. Flowers particularly protested a commission not to consider the group though its application was originally approved for scoring and then scored before disqualification. Murdock said an explanation is lacking on why the application was reviewed further. The answer is that staff discovered an error. The commission had earlier voted 3-2 to uphold the disqualification and that vote stood again today after lengthy discussion.

The Commission then approved denial letters for 17 unsuccessful cultivation applicants. With this notice, they can appeal to court.

The outside consultant grading dispensary permits has said it is on track and hopes to complete grading between Dec. 7 and 14. The Commission set meetings Dec. 19 to hear from the consultant on dispensary applications and Dec. 28 to get a progress report from cultivators on when product will be available. None is believed to be growing yet.

UPDATE: Here’s the report submitted by PCG today on scoring dispensary applications:

PCG Update

Application Processing.

 Established secure FTP connection with the State;
 Set up a secure location on our internal server to store applications, accessible only by review team members and project leadership;
 Downloaded all 199 applications from sFTP;
 Logged page counts to establish average application size;
 Conducted mock application reviews to estimate review time;
 Created databases to record individual application review scores.

Review Preparation. In addition to efforts to acquire and evaluate the nature of applications, we have worked to establish a framework for the efficient, consistent, and fair review of said applications, including:

 Completed all background checks for team members;
 Refined internal review guidelines based on AR conversations and MMC meeting recording;
 Worked with Medical Director to review and provide feedback on internal review guidelines;
 Conducted process and review guideline training for review team.

We will commence the application reviews on Monday, November 5th. Based on the following factors:
1. the amount of time required to complete the mock application reviews by the PCG Team,
2. the length of the complete applications including appendices which far exceeded our estimate used to derive our initial timeline, and
3. in consideration of the two Arkansas state holidays in November (Veterans Day and Thanksgiving),

PCG estimates that we will have our scoring completed between Friday, December 7th (at the earliest) and Friday, December 14th (at the latest). Please confirm this deadline is acceptable to the Arkansas MMC as we want to complete the work as efficiently as possible yet ensuring accuracy and consistency throughout the project. We feel confident we can meet this deadline based on our preparation above and will certainly apprise you both of progress along the way. Thank you in advance for your time. TA