A lawsuit that claims Arkansas medical marijuana regulators illegally awarded a dispensary license to a Hensley seller has been boosted by a Pulaski County Circuit judge’s finding that the plaintiff, Green Thumb Industries Arkansas, is probably right.
Green Thumb claims that it should have gotten the license, one to sell in the Little Rock area, but regulators wrongly gave it to Native Green Wellness Center, which opened a store a little more than a year ago in Saline County.
Green Thumb asked for — and received on Wednesday — a temporary restraining order from Judge Mary McGowan that barred authorities from issuing the license to Native Green.
The lawsuit, which ultimately seeks to have the judge give the Little Rock license to Green Thumb, was filed Tuesday, too late to keep Native Green, which is not a party to the suit, from collecting the Little Rock license. It was awarded about two weeks ago.
In her order, the judge found Green Thumb has shown sufficient proof that issuing the license to Native Green was “violating the clear and unambiguous language” of Amendment 98, the 2016 voter-approved initiative that legalized medical marijuana.
Acknowledging that regulators had not seen or responded to the litigation, the judge did not address Green Thumb’s argument that it should get the license.
Native Green, which describes itself as “proud to be a woman-owned business with 100-percent Arkansan ownership,” got its license last year to sell in Dispensary Zone 6, the seven-county region of Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Montgomery, Perry, Saline and Scott counties. It was the state’s fifth retailer to open.
Amendment 98 allows up to 40 dispensary licenses, and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission divided the state’s 75 counties into eight dispensary zones.
At issue now is a dispensary license in Zone 5, which comprises