Former Arkansas Law Firm Faces Medical Marijuana License Lawsuits

Medical Marijuana Lawsuits: The Legal Buzz in Arkansas

Hey there, cannabis ! Today, we’re delving deeper into a sizzling topic in the world of medical —lawsuits. That’s right, folks, it seems like the budding industry in Arkansas isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We’re about to explore what’s been happening and why you should keep an eagle eye on these .

What’s the Backstory?

So, let’s rewind and set the stage. Picture this: Arkansas, circa 2019, the early days of medical cannabis . Everything seemed promising, but as they say, the devil’s in the details. This is where the story begins—the allegations of some rather shady dealings in the quest to obtain dispensary .

Phantom Ownership Groups?

Well, here’s the scoop. Some folks claimed that a law firm named Steel, Wright, Gray was cooking up something fishy. Allegations pointed toward the creation of phantom local ownership groups, all in a bid to secure four of the state’s first 32 medical cannabis dispensary licenses. And let me tell you, that’s a pretty big deal in the cannabis world.

Who Are the Accusers and What Are They Saying?

Enter Marshall Wright, a former law partner and state legislator, and Scott Pace, a lobbyist and the former CEO of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association. These two gents were part of the Enlightened Dispensary groups that off some legal salvos against Nate Steel (also a former lawmaker) and Alex Gray, the attorneys from Steel, Wright, Gray.

According to the accusers, Wright and Gray orchestrated the creation of these “phantom” local ownership groups. The twist? The so-called “owners” of two dispensaries, Enlightened Dispensary locations in Heber Springs and Morrilton, found themselves with little control over their businesses. Out-of-state management companies were pulling the strings, and the local owners were left with hefty tax bills and meager income. Ouch.

The Legal Duel

Now, it wouldn’t be a true legal showdown without a counterattack, right? Steel, Wright, Gray came out swinging, categorically denying all the allegations. They argued that Wright had indeed prepared dispensary application materials—not just for his group but also for the one that included Pace. And here’s the kicker: Both Pace and Wright knew that those management companies would be calling the shots.

Gray and Steel emphatically stated that they were never the ones advising Wright and Pace on how to operate their dispensaries. Instead, they claimed that at some point, Wright and Pace decided to part ways with the management company and hired Gray and Steel to find a buyer.

And the Plot Thickens…

Here’s where it gets juicy. Steel, Wright, Gray threw a curveball, alleging that Wright and Pace launched a systematic and targeted campaign to defame them. Their aim? To tarnish Gray’s and Steel’s reputations in the Arkansas business and legal communities, all while interfering with SWG’s business and law practice with the intent to harm the plaintiffs.

The suit also claims that Pace disparaged and made false statements about Steel and Gray to the Pharmacists Association, which ended its business relationship with Steel, Wright, Gray. The firm had been retained as the association’s outside general counsel since 2019, according to court documents.

Ownership vs. Control: The Legal Conundrum

Now, let’s pause for a moment and dive into a more significant issue that this legal drama has brought to the forefront—what exactly constitutes ownership in the cannabis industry? In Arkansas, the law that marijuana businesses must be owned at least 60 percent by Arkansas residents. But here’s the kicker: What if, on paper, you own 60 percent, but you don’t control the company?

This sticky situation has raised eyebrows among legislators. State Sen. Linda Chesterfield pointed out that paper ownership doesn’t mean much if you can’t make decisions within the company. It’s a conundrum that needs a solution, and it’s not unique to Arkansas.

The Verdict So Far

So, where does that leave us, my friends? The Arkansas cannabis industry is sailing through some stormy seas with these medical marijuana lawsuits. Who will emerge victorious? Only time will tell, but it’s clear that the cannabis business isn’t all about good vibes and high profits. Sometimes, it’s a bumpy ride through the legal jungle.

In Conclusion

Big shoutout to Hunter Field, who reported this gripping cannabis legal saga for Arkansas Advocate. We’ll be keeping a close watch on how this unfolds. In the meantime, stay informed, and remember to enjoy your cannabis responsibly. Until next time, happy toking!

Malvin Felix
I'm Malvin, a cannabis news enthusiast who finds joy in staying updated about the latest industry trends. My passion led me to become a dedicated writer, entrepreneur, and investor in the cannabis space. Through my writing, I aim to educate and spark discussions, while my entrepreneurial ventures and strategic investments reflect my commitment to driving positive change in the industry.

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