The Latest: Pot company accused of offering panelist a bribe

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Latest on Supreme Court oral arguments regarding Arkansas' medical marijuana program (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

The Arkansas attorney general's office says a member of the commission that awards licenses to grow medical marijuana has accused an unsuccessful applicant of trying to bribe him.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday released a previously sealed letter from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office that detailed the bribery allegation, most of which Rutledge's office said remains unsubstantiated and is being investigated by law enforcement. The court on Wednesday issued an order that said only attorneys in the case regarding the state's medical marijuana licensing program could view the letter.

In the letter, Rutledge said a member of the state Medical Marijuana Commission claimed he was offered a bribe by Natural State Agronomics, which had applied unsuccessfully for a license. The commissioner, who wasn't named, said he didn't accept the bribe but did not report it. Attorneys for Natural State Agronomics did not immediately messages Thursday afternoon.

Justices heard oral arguments over a judge's decision to prevent Arkansas from issuing cultivation licenses. The judge sided with another unsuccessful applicant, Naturalis Health LLC.


11:51 a.m.

An attorney for a company that unsuccessfully applied for a license to grow medical marijuana in Arkansas is calling the state's process for permitting such businesses "flawed and corrupt." Attorneys for the state and a firm say a judge who prevented Arkansas from issuing the licenses didn't have the power to do so.

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in the state's appeal of the decision that prevents the state Medical Marijuana Commission from awarding its first cultivation licenses. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen in March ruled that the licensing process violated a state constitutional amendment voters approved in 2016 legalizing marijuana for patients with certain conditions.

Griffen ruled in favor of an unsuccessful applicant who had challenged the commission's decision to issue permits to five businesses.

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