River Valley Relief Cultivation’s license renewal on tap for June 1 meeting
The license of River Valley Relief Cultivation remains in limbo after a Pulaski County circuit court judge ruled in November that the Fort Smith cultivator was not a qualified candidate and should have never been issued a license.
So, instead of renewing its license the commission left the complex matter for its June 1 meeting.
The commission's decision to balk on renewing River Valley Relief's license came as it was set to approve it and the 52 other licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators and processors. But the commission held off after an objection from an attorney representing the appellee in the case.
In November, a Pulaski County circuit court judge issued a ruling calling for the license to be revoked. With the case pending before the Arkansas Supreme Court, the commission delayed making a decision.
Doralee Chandler, then-director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration, issued an order revoking River Valley Relief's license in November, but the Supreme Court ruled in December the cultivator could continue to operate while its case was pending.
Bennett "Storm" Nolan, one of the businessmen behind River Valley Relief, appealed the revocation of the license to the state Supreme Court, which has not yet scheduled a date for oral arguments but has set a July 11 deadline for Nolan's legal briefs.
River Valley Production, which does business as River Valley Relief Cultivation, has one of the eight licenses to cultivate medical marijuana in Arkansas. In January 2021, 2600 Holdings LLC, doing business as Southern Roots Cultivation, filed a lawsuit claiming the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration had wrongly passed over them in favor of River Valley Relief. River Valley's cultivation license was the eighth and final license the state issued to cultivate medical marijuana.
In his decision, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herb Wright said if not for state marijuana regulators ignoring their own rules, River Valley Relief would have never received a cultivation license, as it was located within 3,000 feet of a juvenile detention center in Sebastian County, which is legally considered a school under state law and therefore cannot be within 3,000 feet of a medical marijuana cultivation facility.
Commission chair James Miller said the commission will also vote during its June 1 meeting on whether a rural, Craighead County dispensary can move to Jonesboro. The commission heard arguments May 18 over whether NEA Full Spectrum, a medical marijuana dispensary located in Brookland, should be allowed to move 9.9 miles to a location in Jonesboro.
The proposed move is opposed by Crop Co., a Jonesboro dispensary that said Full Spectrum's proposed site would violate regulations because it would be within 1,500 feet of a facility that serves patients with developmental issues.
An attorney for Crop Co. also argued NEA Full Spectrum's proposed move to Jonesboro would run afoul of its mandate to serve rural communities in Northeast Arkansas.
Lance Huey, chief operating officer of NEA Full Spectrum, said the dispensary's proposed location in Jonesboro was a more convenient location for its rural clientele. An attorney for NEA Full Spectrum said the facility located near the proposed Jonesboro site was not a clinic that treated people for developmental issues.