The Alabama Medical Cannabis licensing process has officially entered Groundhog Day territory. After previously directing that the AMCC participate in limited, expedited discovery (including the deposition of up to six commissioners and staffers), late last week the court ordered the AMCC and the challengers to meet and confer to determine whether a compromise can be reached as to the scope of that discovery.
Specifically, the commission wishes to limit discovery to issues involving allegations of the Open Meetings Act and to prevent inquiring about the internal thoughts of commissioners during the voting process under what the commission believes is a deliberative process privilege. The challengers, on the other hand, believe that such internal thoughts are at the core of their legal argument and that discovery is essentially meaningless if it is limited to information already largely known to the public.
The court ruled as follows:
- All aspects of the TROs previously entered as to dispensary and integrated facility licenses shall remain in place, pending further order of the court.
- The January 24, 2024, hearing at 9:30 a.m. CT previously set on the motion for preliminary injunction shall remain in place, but its purpose will be different, as described below.
- On or before January 18, 2024, counsel for the commission and a delegation from counsel for the challenging plaintiffs shall meet and confer concerning the scope of discovery to which the parties can agree, and whether disputes concerning the scope of allowable discovery can be resolved completely.
- Counsel will notify the court on or before close of business on January 19, 2024, as to whether outstanding disputes remain concerning discovery.
- In the event an agreement is not reached, the court will hear and adjudicate the remaining disputes concerning the scope of allowable discovery at the hearing previously set for January 24, 2024.
- The hearing on the motions for preliminary injunction is reset for February 28, 2024, at 10 a.m. CT.
Once again, we wait.