click to enlarge THE COMMISSION: Dr. Carlos Roman is at far left.
Dr. Carlos Roman, one of five members of the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission, fired back at critics yesterday in interviews with the Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Business amid allegations of a conflict of interest between Roman and a top-scoring applicant for a much-coveted cultivation facility license. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen found enough merit in that point and others to enjoin the commission’s distribution of licenses on March 21, declaring its scores “null and void.” Roman took issue with the judge’s decision, according to the D-G’s Hunter Field:
“It blows my mind that a judge, a lawyer, could put this trash out,” he said, holding up Griffen’s order, which Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
With 95 cultivation applicants were competing for just five licenses, it was all but inevitable that one of the rejected parties would sue the commission. In February, the winning applicants were announced, based on a score aggregated from rubrics filled out by each commissioner independently. Earlier this month, failed applicant Naturalis Health LLC sued the commission based on various alleged irregularities in its process and an alleged conflict of interest between two commissioners and two of the five winning applicants.
The Naturalis complaint outlines two alleged conflicts of interests. One is between Roman and Dr. Scott Schlesinger, a partial owner of Natural State Medicinals Cultivation, which Roman gave a significantly higher score than any other applicant. Naturalis says Roman, an anesthesiologist and pain-management specialist who runs a large clinic in Little Rock, regularly refers patients to Schlesinger’s practice, and that the two men have “an extremely close personal and professional relationship.” (The other alleged conflict of interest is between Commissioner Travis Story and Osage Creek Cultivation.)
Roman said the scores were