Last Thursday was License Award Day 2.0 for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Nineteen of the applicants awarded licenses in June, before the process was halted due to then-unexplained “inconsistencies” in the scoring process, were awarded licenses the second time around. That came as no surprise to the author, but there were a few notable surprises over the course of the day.
First, there was one change amongst the integrated facility licensees: Verano was replaced by Insa Alabama, LLC. No specific explanation was given for this change, and I suspect we haven’t heard the last from Verano as court cases will almost certainly heat up in the weeks and months ahead. Insa Alabama’s ascension to the top five was particularly notable because it had scored eighth in the June voting, something that I’m sure caused great consternation to those who finished in sixth and seventh place in June.
Second, one of the secure transport applicants that was awarded a license in June was not awarded a license the second time around. Close readers of this blog will remember that the secure transport licensees are not subject to a cap on licenses, so I suspect there was some issue that came to the commission’s attention about the applicant in the past two months.
Third, staff from the University of South Alabama (engaged by the commission to blindly grade applications) gave a presentation about the errors they identified in the initial grading. I found these to be fascinating and, frankly, a pretty bad look for the university. The university concluded that only one application was sufficiently impacted such that it went from receiving a license to not receiving a license – presumably Verano, but the applicant was not mentioned by name. Specifically, the university noted the following errors:
- Offsetting Error – In one instance in the integrated facility category, an evaluator input the score twice. The additional score “caused a trickle-down effect on the calculation of the averages of all scores below it on the spreadsheet.”
- Incorrect Weight Applied to Raw Scores – This, according to the University of South Alabama, did not affect rankings since it was consistently applied to all applicant scores in the Processor, Dispensary, and Secure Transporter categories.
- Sorting Errors – Raw data for the Processor license panel was exported by evaluator ID, rather than application ID. “This caused scores for different applicants, rather than different evaluators, to be averaged together.” By way of example, “Application 1, Evaluation A score was averaged with Applicant 2. Evaluator A score: instead of averaging Applicant 1, Evaluator A and Applicant 1, Evaluator B scores.”
- Miskey by Evaluators – Quantitative scores were identified in all license panels that were inconsistent with qualitative scores. Upon confirmation from evaluators, some numerical score changes were necessitated.
- Data Entry Errors – Due to initial miskeys evaluators were contacted via email to provide correct data, and some received data was applied to the incorrect applicant and/or evaluator or not applied at all.
A full list of the applicants awarded licenses is below:
|Integrated Facility License|
|Insa Alabama, LLC|
|Flowerwood Medical Cannabis, LLC|
|Southeast Cannabis Company, LLC|
|Sustainable Alabama, LLC|
|TheraTrue Alabama, LLC|
|Gulf Shore Remedies, LLC|
|Pure by Sirmon Farms, LLC|
|Blackberry Farms, LLC|
|Twisted Herb Cultivation, LLC|
|I AM FARMS|
|Greenway Botanicals, LLC|
|CRC of Alabama, LLC|
|Enchanted Green, LLC|
|1819 Labs, LLC|
|Organic Harvest Lab, LLC|
|Jasper Development Group Inc.|
|Yellowhammer Medical Dispensaries, LLC|
|CCS of Alabama, LLC|
|RJK Holdings AL, LLC|
|Statewide Property Holdings AL, LLC|
|Secure Transport License|
|Tyler Van Lines, LLC|
|International Communication, LLC|
|State Testing Laboratory License|
For many applicants, the decisions yesterday represent the end of the beginning of a long and hopefully prosperous journey. For others, the beginning of the end. But something tells me that there may still be a few fireworks in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County very soon. As always, stay tuned.