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US (AR): In lawsuit involving Fort Smith cultivator, plaintiff says state in contempt of judge’s ruling

State medical-cannabis regulators are flouting a judge's order to revoke the license of an illegally certified Northwest Arkansas cannabis grower by refusing to immediately strip the company of the license like they were told to do, lawyers for the Little Rock company that claims it's rightfully entitled to the license assert in an emergency motion on Tuesday. They warn that regulators are trying "to pull the wool over the court's eyes" and have "misled" the judge.

The cultivation license is the last of eight authorized by the state constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2016 to legalize medical cannabis. It was awarded to Fort Smith businessman Bennett "Storm" Nolan, whose River Valley Production LLC of Fort Smith began growing cannabis last year and started selling it in February as River Valley Relief Cultivation.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright ruled 13 days ago that Nolan and company weren't qualified candidates and shouldn't have been licensed, but for cannabis regulators ignoring their own rules while making up others to award the certification. He told regulators to take the license and properly award it to a legitimate candidate.

The judge was acting on a 2021 lawsuit brought by a company that claimed it had been wrongly passed over for the license, 2600 Holdings doing business as Southern Roots Cultivation.

Tuesday, Southern Roots attorney Abtin Mehdizadegan called on Wright to again intervene, stating in an emergency motion that, rather than just cancel the license as they had first promised, regulators had instead substituted an administrative process that would not conclude until the end of the month and could give Nolan and River Valley another chance to stake a claim to the license, despite the judge's ruling.

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