While the Aug. 10 awards have not been voided, the license issuance and appeals deadlines have been halted. Site inspections will also be delayed.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Anderson granted a temporary restraining order, effectively pausing the process.
This comes after the company Alabama Always and others sued the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC), alleging the commission violated the Open Meetings Act (OMA) at its last meeting.
Companies said the Commission’s roughly three-hour executive session in which they nominated companies to then be voted on publicly violated the OMA.
“We think it’s undisputed that they violated it at this point,” Alabama Always lawyer Will Somerville said.
Commission Director John McMillan stands by the way the meeting was held.
“I think we had 7 lawyers in that meeting all being cautious about that,” McMillan said.
AMCC attorney Will Webster told the judge if the awarding process must start over for a third time, they wouldn’t hold executive sessions at all and instead be forced to “air everyone’s dirty laundry.”
Judge Anderson said he found enough evidence on its face to grant the temporary pause but will hold a later hearing on Aug. 28 to address the temporary restraining order and OMA complaint.
AMCC Director McMillan said he wants to see this process move along quickly and is glad to hear the judge also voice that intention.
“We’re not unhappy with the judge’s decision. We hate any delays because the patients suffering every day that need these products,” McMillan said.
Alabama Always Lawyer Will Somerville called the judge’s order a victory. He said he doesn’t think the companies should be blamed for the delays.
“The delay has been caused by their refusal to follow the law at every turn. They keep on doing things they shouldn’t do, and they keep on being stopped from it,” Somerville said.
When asked how long these proceedings may delay the availability of the product for patients, McMillan said it’s impossible to say at this point.
Following that scheduled hearing on Aug. 28, the commission is scheduled to meet on Aug. 31.