Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Cannabis License Conflict Draws Sanction

A conflict of interest and related violations drew a six-month suspension followed by eighteen months of probation from the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct Panel D. 

The conflict involved a client who had retained Respondent regarding a medical marijuana cultivation license. The client had created an entity ("Courageous Ann") to pursue a license to establish an Arkansas medical marijuana cultivation company.

Respondent had access to a client-created dropbox and maintained such access after leaving his firm. The firm and the Respondent continued as counsel after his departure.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on the sharing of dropbox documents

A company that was awarded one of Arkansas' first medical-marijuana growing licenses copied important sections of its application from a competing group, according to sources, public records and other documents.

An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette review of public records found that large portions of Delta Medical Cannabis Co.'s successful cultivation license application had the same wording -- verbatim in some cases and slightly tweaked in others -- as the language used in 46th-ranked Courageous Ann's application.

The sections of Delta Medical Cannabis' application where the near-identical material appears are those that the five members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission merit-scored to decide which five companies would receive the licenses. While portions of the publicly released sections are redacted, much remains open for review.

Electronic fingerprints on Delta Medical's internal documents and company emails -- provided by sources -- show how the contents of Courageous Ann's application funneled into Delta Medical's hands through accounts linked to its previous attorney, Michael Langley.

Langley is the former director of the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, the agency that now oversees the state's burgeoning medical marijuana industry. Langley was not involved with medical-marijuana issues during his time at the agency, having left several years before voters approved the constitutional amendment on the drug in 2016.

Courageous Ann filed a complaint with the ABC Medical Marijuana Commission.

The order finds a violation of the duty of confidentiality as well as a conflict of interest by representing Delta in competition with Courageous Ann. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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