Group not picked to grow medical pot in Arkansas files letter of protest; agency evaluating tax statuses of winning firms

An unsuccessful applicant for one of Arkansas’ first medical marijuana growing facilities has protested the issuance of licenses to the first five future growing centers.

Delta Cannabinoid Corp. filed a letter of protest to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Monday, alleging that the five companies did not meet required standards, lacked racial diversity and the commission’s review and selection process was arbitrary and capricious.

Delta Cannabinoid was the ninth highest-scoring applicant; only the top five were approved to receive licenses. One of Delta Cannabinoid’s stakeholders, retired state Court of Appeals Justice Olly Neal, had filed an ethics complaint against one of the commissioners Friday, claiming he had a conflict of interest when grading the application submitted by two of his law firm’s clients.

[DOCUMENT: Read the letter of protest + applications from the five firms selected to open growing centers]

The protest letter is the latest in a flurry of challenges to the commission’s awarding of the state’s first growing licenses. The panel plans to formally award the licenses at its meeting Wednesday.

Also Monday, an Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration official said the agency is evaluating the tax statuses of the top-scoring applicants for Arkansas’ first medical marijuana growing facilities after questions were raised about whether some had outstanding delinquencies.

Rep. Scott Baltz, D-Pocahontas, asked several questions in a Friday letter to the Finance Department, noting that the commission’s rules prohibit cultivation facility owners from owing delinquent taxes to the state.

In a Monday response, Commissioner of Revenue Walter Anger explained the agency’s process for reviewing individual applicants’ tax clearance. The letter didn’t indicate that the agency had found any delinquents among the top-scoring groups, but Anger did say the department was reviewing each applicant’s tax status at the request of a member of the medical marijuana panel.

The findings of that review will be presented at Wednesday’s scheduled commission meeting, the letter states.

Read Tuesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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