On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed and dismissed a lower court’s ruling that prevented State officials from issuing cultivation licenses to businesses, which would allow these businesses to grow marijuana. In March, Judge Wendell Griffen ruled that the State’s procedure for issuing marijuana cultivation licenses was unconstitutional. This ruling came after the Medical Marijuana Commission issued cultivation licenses to select businesses that had applied for such licenses. The Arkansas Supreme Court overruled Griffen on the grounds that Griffen did not have the jurisdiction to halt the issuance of licenses as the licensing process is controlled by the Executive Branch of the State government, not the Judicial Branch.
The Commission can now continue any action that was previously underway prior to Griffen’s decision in March. The Commission has stated that it will not take any action regarding marijuana cultivation licenses for at least two weeks, which is the time it takes for the Supreme Court order to be finalized. After this two-week period, the Commission will announce how it plans to proceed with the licensing process. As of the decision in March, the Commission had not awarded the licenses for the dispensaries, only the cultivation centers, but those licenses will likely be issued before the end of summer. Arkansas has approved over 5,300 people for the use of medical marijuana. Registry cards, which will be used to obtain medical marijuana at a dispensary, will be issued roughly a month before medical marijuana is expected to be readily available.
The decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court makes it likely that medical marijuana will be available before the end of 2018. As such, every employer needs to review its policies regarding substance abuse to ensure it is prepared when marijuana hits the streets.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact a CGWG attorney.