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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – One of the nation’s largest medical cannabis companies has filed a lawsuit against Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Commission.
Verano grows and sells cannabis in 13 states and planned to bring business to Alabama before its business license was taken away after the commission found an error in application scores. The company is now suing, claiming the commission overstepped its power.
The cannabis commission is already facing another lawsuit for possible violations of Alabama’s Open Meetings Act.
James Leventis, executive vice president of Verano, said the commission awarded final licences in June. He said Verano Alabama was invoiced $50,000 by the state for a licensing fee and paid that fee the same day.
Leventis said the Medical Cannabis Commission found an error in the application scores a few days later, stopped the process and voided those licenses.
“It’s a made-up concept. They were valid awards,” said Leventis.
The applications were re-graded. Verano got the highest score among the integrated facility applicants but wasn’t awarded a medical cannabis business license in August.
“They still have our $50,000 today,” said Leventis.
It’s not about the money, according to Leventis. The lawsuit reads “Nothing in the Alabama Code or the Hall Compassion Act provides the Commission authority to ‘void’ a license.”
Lenventis said he wants the opportunity to provide needed relief to medical cannabis patients and benefit the entire state.
“We were ready to immediately invest at least $40 million into this industry in Alabama “ he said. “Wherever we go we invest in infrastructure, we uplift the communities around us.”
They want a judge to mandate that the commission reinstate the original license awards and work from there.
“In states that stand by that scoring process, there’s always going to be litigation that sort of plays out with folks that didn’t get a license. But that plays out in the background as the industry launches,” said Leventis.
Leventis said the state hasn’t responded, so the case is in its early stages.
The commission will be in court this week to face the other lawsuit dealing with possible violations of the Open Meetings Act. The medical cannabis commission cannot comment on ongoing lawsuits.
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