North Alabama Medical Cannabís Company Awaits Resolution in Court Battle

North Alabama medical cannabis company remains in limbo, hoping court issues will be resolved

North Alabama Medical Cannabís Company Awaits Resolution in Court Battle

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (TheChronicle) — A court battle in Montgomery over medical cannabis business license awards has left some Alabama business owners and patients in limbo, despite the state legalizing medical cannabis in 2021.

The dispute focuses on how the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) awarded licenses to certain companies while excluding others. The commission has voted on license awards three times over the past year, prompting lawsuits from companies that were not selected. These companies argue that the commission failed to follow the law in its licensing process and in conducting public business. A temporary restraining order from a Montgomery Circuit judge has prevented the dispensing of medical cannabis.

Joey Robertson, president and CEO of Cullman-based Wagon Trail Med-Serve, is eager to start operations. His company was awarded an integrated facility license, allowing for the growing, processing, packaging, dispensing, and sale of medical cannabis. However, the ongoing court battle has stalled progress.

“There is a tremendous need in the state of Alabama for this medicine to hit the market,” Robertson said. “Now because we’re held up in legal actions by the unsuccessful applicants who’d rather see this program fall apart as to not get a license, no one can move forward to get medicine to the patients.”

Wagon Trail Med-Serve, which began in the hemp business, is prepared to move quickly once the legal issues are resolved. 

“The beauty of what we’ve already done over the past several years in preparation is we’re close to being ready to go,” Robertson said. “We can finish out our cultivation facilities, and while they’re being finished and our cultivation begins, we’ll be finishing out our dispensaries. We already know how to process the materials, to make the oil, to make the product. It’s just a matter of a few months after being awarded that license to being able to get products to the shelves for patients in Alabama.”

The AMCC has acknowledged mistakes in its company scoring system and the need for multiple votes. However, Commission Chairman John McMillan recently described the lawsuits seeking to reopen the license award process as “frivolous.”

Robertson believes the commission made the right decisions and is encouraged by the Alabama Legislature's decision not to alter the current medical cannabis law.

“I would say I’m more optimistic right now than I’ve been in the last few months,” he said. “Through the entire legislative session it was clear there was not a fix needed. There was not enough legislative support to change the rules, change the laws, and I think that showed good support for the commission and showed they are ready for this process to move forward, just like we are.”

Wagon Trail Med-Serve plans to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Cullman, Montgomery, Decatur, Athens, and Florence.

Despite the court-ordered stay affecting integrated license and dispensary license holders, some progress is being made in the medical cannabis business.

“Some of the independent licenses have already begun operations because they’ve been awarded licenses,” Robertson explained. “So, we already have cultivators growing cannabis in the state and processors building out. But due to the legal actions, none of us can really get a finished result. We’re not able to start the dispensary operation and sell the products to the patients. We’d love to see this legal process end and the temporary restraining order by Judge Anderson be lifted.”