Controversy with planned pot dispensary?
Ownership of one of three West Memphis medical marijuana shops called into question By the Evening Times News Staff
ne ws @ thee veningtimes .com
A disgruntled and unsuccessful applicant for a medical marijuana dispensary claims the owners of one of three dispensaries scheduled to open in West Memphis were unlawfully affiliated with one another. While state regulators just last week said there was insufficient evidence to substantiate those allegations the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division has ordered Don, Todd and Mary Sears to submit more documents to ensure they were not affiliated. The dispensaries in question – THC RX of West Memphis, Doctor’s Orders RX of Hot Springs and Pain Free RX of Pine Bluff — are owned by the Sears. Don and Mary Sears are married while Todd Sears is Don Sears’ son. The complaint, submitted by an attorney for Green Remedies Group, challenged the Searses' licenses, claiming that all three violated an Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission rule that precludes individuals from having ownership stake in more than one dispensary. The complaint alleges that the Searses provided false information in their dispensary license applications. THC RX of West Memphis will be one of three dispensaries, one of which will be located on East Broadway while the remaining two located on the east end of the city alone the interstate service road. ABC Director Dralee Chandler said in a statement that there is no substantial evidence to
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establish an intent to derive a clear benefit from another license.
The director went on to say, “There could be clearer distinction by (Todd, Don and Mary Sears) to sufficiently divest themselves of any interest in the other dispensaries.”
Doctor’s Orders RX was the first dispensary in Arkansas when it opened May 10. THC RX and Pain Free RX have not opened yet.
Dispensary licenses were awarded in February after a competitive application process involving 203 permit applicants. Disgruntled rejected applicants sent regulators a flurry of complaints after the licenses were awarded, but most were dismissed.
In this particular case, Chandler, relying on a 2016 Arkansas Supreme Court case involving separate liquor store permit by a married couple, reasoned that the Sears family ties didn’t automatically mean they each would derive benefit from the others’ dispensary ownership.
Ffowever, in Todd Sears case. Chandler noted that “there could be clearer distinction” that he’s sufficiently divested of any interest in Don or Mary Sears’ dispensaries.
Todd Sears is listed as the couple’s joint bank account, and he forwarded a photograph of Doctor’s Orders RX’s license to state regulators.
Chandler ordered Todd Sears to, within the next 60 days, divest himself of all documents or photographs pertaining to Doctor’s Orders RX and sign an affidavit “sufficiently divesting all equitable claim to or right in property of any dispensary license” other than his own.
Chandler ordered Mary and Don Sears to submit the same affidavits, and both said during hearings that they were exploring estate planning that would divest Todd and each spouse from any interest in their respective dispensaries upon death.
Both Don and Mary Sear made identical typographical errors in their dispensary company by-laws, which said that 1,000 shares of stock were issued but only 100 were distributed.
Chandler also ordered the incorporation documents to be corrected within 60 days.
Chandler also dismissed complaints against all three Searses that they provided false information on their applications by not answering affirmatively to question on the form that asked whether the applicant is “affiliated” with any other dispensary applicants.
Chandler’s decision may be appealed to the ABC Control Board.