US (AR): Legislators concerned about how to regulate out-of-state investors

A recent lawsuit alleging fraud and legal malpractice between Arkansas medical cannabis dispensary owners and their lawyers has renewed discussions among lawmakers on how to oversee the growing cannabis industry in Arkansas. While lawmakers said they were worried about out-of-state investors having covert control of Arkansas medical cannabis businesses, they had few answers on how to regulate the issue when the Arkansas Legislative Council's Medical Marijuana Oversight Subcommittee met last week.

What prompted the committee's discussion were claims made in a recent lawsuit in which owners of four medical cannabis dispensaries accused a Little Rock law firm of fraud and legal malpractice, saying that despite having ownership stakes, an out-of-state company had control over the business. "It's one of the things that I wanted the committee to look at because we have got to do a better job of monitoring a multimillion-dollar industry, and we really don't have any answers," state Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, said.

In their amended complaint filed in September, Marshall Wright and Josh Landers, two of the co-owners of Big Fish of North Central Arkansas, accused the Little Rock law firm Steel, Wright, Gray PLLC of fraud and legal malpractice.

According to the lawsuit, in 2016, Wright "was a very small percentage owner" in Steel, Wright, Gray, although the firm still lists Wright as a team member, with a photo and bio of Wright on the law firm's website.


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