ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION; ARKANSAS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL DIVISION; AND ARKANSAS MEDICAL MARIJUANA COMMISSION APPELLANTS
NATURALIS HEALTH, LLC APPELLEE NATURAL STATE WELLNESS ENTERPRISES, LLC; DELTA MEDICAL CANNABIS COMPANY, LLC; BOLD TEAM, LLC; AND OSAGE CREEK CULTIVATION, LLC APPELLANTS/INTERVENORS ARKANSAS MEDICINAL SOURCE, LLC; CLEAR CREEK MEDICAL, INC.; NATURAL STATE AGRONOMICS, INC.; RIVER VALLEY PRODUCTION, LLC, D/B/A RIVER VALLEY RELIEF CULTIVATION; ACANZA HEALTH GROUP, LLC; CARPENTER FARMS MEDICAL GROUP, LLC; MILDRED GRIGGS AND DELTA CANNABINOID CORPORATION APPELLEES/INTERVENORS
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 60CV-18-1559]
HONORABLE WENDELL L. GRIFFEN, JUDGE
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Lee P. Rudofsky, Solicitor
Gen., Monty V. Baugh, Deputy Att'y Gen., and Jennifer L.
Merritt, Sr. Ass't Att'y Gen., for
McDaniel, Richardson & Calhoun, PLLC, by: Scott M.
Richardson, for appellant-intervenor/cross-appellee Natural
State Wellness Enterprises, LLC.
Campbell, P.A., by: Eric R. Gribble, Phil Campbell, Annie
Depper, and Haley Heath Burks, for
appellant-intervenor/cross-appellee Delta Medical Cannabis
Murphy, Thompson, Arnold, Skinner & Castleberry, by:
Kenneth P. "Casey" Castleberry, for
appellant-intervenor/cross-appellee Bold Team, LLC.
Hardin, Jesson & Terry, PLC, by: Rex M. Terry; and
Everett Law Firm, by: John C. Everett, for
appellant-intervenor/cross-appellee Osage Creek Cultivation,
Bequette & Billingsley, P.A., by: Jay Bequette, Keith I.
Billingsley, and W. Cody Kees, for appellee/cross-appellant
Naturalis Health, LLC.
Dixon Horne, PLLC, by: Randall L. Bynum and Roger
"Todd" Wooten, for appellee-intervenor Acanza
Health Group, LLC.
& Young PLLC, by: Virgil W. Young and Paul A. Young; and
William L. Owen, P.A., by: William L. Owen; and Robert S.
Tschiemer, for appellee-intervenor/cross-appellant Natural
State Agronomics, Inc.
K. WOOD, Associate Justice
Appellants, which include Arkansas Department of Finance and
Administration (DFA), Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control
Division (ABC), and Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission
(MMC),  appeal the circuit court's preliminary
injunction and declaratory judgment. At issue is the
MMC's process that resulted in a decision awarding the
top five scoring applicants, including Natural State Wellness
Enterprises, Delta Medical Cannabis Company, Bold Team, LLC,
and Osage Creek Cultivation,
Appellee Naturalis Health, LLC (Naturalis), is one
of the applicants that did not receive a score sufficient to
obtain one of the initial five licenses. We reverse and
dismiss the appeal because the circuit court lacked
Factual and Procedural Background
2016, the people of Arkansas amended the Arkansas
Constitution to legalize medical marijuana. Ark. Const.
amend. 98. Amendment 98 created the MMC "to
determine the qualifications for receiving a license to
operate a dispensary or a license to operate a cultivation
facility and the awarding of licenses." Id.
§ 19(a)(1). Pursuant to this authority, the MMC
promulgated "Rules and Regulations Governing the
Application For, Issuance, and Renewal of Licenses for
Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facilities and Dispensaries in
Arkansas" (MMC Rules).
reviewed and ranked the applications for cultivation-facility
licenses pursuant to the criteria for merit selection
contained in the MMC Rules. In February 2018, the MMC named
the top five applicants to whom it would award licenses after
each applicant paid a $100, 000 licensing fee and posted a
$500, 000 performance bond.Naturalis ranked thirty-eighth out
of eighty-two applicants.
March 13, 2018, Naturalis filed a "Verified Complaint to
Appeal Agency Decision, for Temporary Restraining Order,
Preliminary and Permanent Injunction and Declaratory
Judgment" in the circuit court against DFA, ABC, and the
MMC. On March 14, 2018, the circuit court entered a temporary
restraining order. On March 16, 2018, the circuit court
conducted an evidentiary hearing on the preliminary
injunction. On March 21, 2018, the circuit court entered an
order granting the preliminary injunction and a declaratory
judgment. Naturalis had asserted that the MMC carried out the
application process in a flawed, biased, and arbitrary and
capricious manner, and that the commissioners failed to
uniformly apply their rules when scoring the applications.
The circuit court went further and concluded that the
MMC's licensing process and decisions violated Amendment
98 to the Arkansas Constitution, were ultra vires,