Allegations of corruption abound in Arkansas cannabis licensing board

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The road to medical marijuana in Arkansas has seen it's share of rough patches. And just when things looked like they were starting to turn around, allegations of corruption in the licensing selection process has started to come forward, writes Calvin Hughes.

Although Arkansas voters opted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, the licensing of cannabis producers only began recently after years of holdups. Now that things are finally underway, the licensing process is facing allegations of corruption.

By far, the worst allegation involves Carlos Roman - a member of the state's Medical Marijuana Commission - allegedly receiving a bribe from Natural State Agronomics, who hoped to secure a license with that underhanded deal, according to a document released by the Arkansas Supreme Court

Attorney David Couch, who authored the ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas, says it may be time to start over with a lottery system to replace the corrupt application process.

"I’d put them in a hat and draw out winners right now, because the most important thing that we need is to get the medicine to the patients as soon as possible," Couch told ABC-affiliate KATV, adding that it's crucial to reboot the selection process for the sake of restoring trust in the system. "We need to restore the public's confidence in this program" following "the allegations of bribery, different scoring charts, and conflicts of interest and now the latest revelation one applicant took another applicants application and used it," he added.

Of course, implementing that system means Arkansas patients who have already been waiting far too long to receive the medical treatment they deserve will have to continue sit on the sidelines as regulators try to get the overdue program up and running.

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