Supreme Court’s Rulings on Marijuana Cultivation Licence in Fort Smith

Home » Supreme Court’s Rulings on Marijuana Cultivation Licence in Fort Smith
Garry Stewart
Written By Steve Brandon

April 12, 2024

supreme court's rulings on marijuana cultivation licence in fort smith

In a significant legal victory for a Fort Smith medical marijuana cultivator, the Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled 5-2 in favor of Bennett Scott “Storm” Nolan II and his company, River Valley Production LLC, operating as River Valley Relief Cultivation. This ruling follows a lawsuit brought by a rival company seeking to strip River Valley of its state cultivation license.

River Valley Production LLC was granted a cultivation license by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission in a meeting on June 30, 2020. After completing a final inspection in July 2021, the company received the formal approval to commence growing operations. It’s noteworthy that all eight of Arkansas’s yearly medical marijuana cultivation licenses are up for renewal between May and June.

Laws and Allegations

2600 Holdings LLC, known as Southern Roots Cultivation, filed a lawsuit against River Valley. They claimed that River Valley’s license application did not meet the basic requirements and that the commission broke its own rules and the state constitution by giving River Valley a license.

Justice Rhonda K. Wood, writing for the majority opinion, noted, “This case is one of many arising from the medical marijuana licensing process that followed the passage of Amendment 98, several of which have surrounded the Commission’s decision to grant a license to Nolan.”

Key Point of the Legal Argument

2600 Holdings’ lawsuit sought to revoke River Valley’s license and award it to the next highest-scoring applicant from the reserve pool. However, River Valley’s owner, Nolan, was not initially named as a defendant in the suit.

The State argued that Nolan was crucial for a fair judgment under Rule 19 of Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure. The Arkansas Supreme Court agreed, stating Nolan should have been included as an essential party in the lawsuit. They also noted errors in the circuit court’s judgment for not including Nolan as necessary.

supreme court's rulings on marijuana cultivation licence in fort smith

Decision by the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s ruling reversed the previous decision against River Valley and vacated a summary judgment. This decision marks a significant victory for River Valley Relief Cultivation, allowing it to continue operating in the medical marijuana industry.

Justice Barbara W. Webb wrote a concurring opinion supporting the court’s decision. However, Justices Karen R. Baker and Shawn A. Womack wrote dissenting opinions, reflecting the complexities and differing perspectives within the court.

The court’s decision highlights the complexities of legal battles in Arkansas’ medical marijuana industry and the importance of including all relevant parties in such cases. This ruling ensures River Valley Relief Cultivation’s continued participation in the state’s medical marijuana cultivation program.

Take Away

The Arkansas Supreme Court’s 5-2 ruling in favor of River Valley Production LLC, led by Bennett Scott Storm Nolan II, is a big win in a legal fight over a state cultivation license. Justice Rhonda K. Wood’s decision shows it’s important to involve everyone in lawsuits. This ruling overturned a previous judgment against River Valley, securing their spot in Arkansas’ medical marijuana industry. It means they can keep operating and taking part in the state’s cultivation program without interruptions.

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