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story.lead_photo.caption In this Jan. 1, 2018 photo, marijuana plants are for sale at Harborside marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after legalized marijuana. Sessions is rescinding a policy that had let legalized marijuana flourish without federal intervention across the country. That's according to two people with direct knowledge of the decision. (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)

FAYETTEVILLE — A company wanting to cultivate marijuana sued Washington County after the Quorum Court rejected its bid for a permit.

Background

The state Medical Marijuana Commission is considering applications to license five cultivation sites and 32 dispensaries. Voters approved a constitutional amendment last year legalizing medical marijuana for patients with certain qualifying medical conditions.

Source: Staff report

Native Flower, a nonprofit corporation, filed an appeal Jan. 4 in Washington County Circuit Court. The Quorum Court failed to notify company representatives about a hearing on the matter, according to the lawsuit. The company also said the Quorum Court should have ratified the permit because the company met zoning requirements.

No one from Native Flower attended the hearing Dec. 21 during the monthly Quorum Court meeting.

Nathan Crouch, senior planner for the county, said Wednesday the department sent a letter about the hearing to Parcs LLC, which owns the property. The address was valid when previously used by the Planning Department, Director Jim Kimbrough said.

County Attorney Brian Lester agreed the county properly notified Native Flower.

Jason Wales, the attorney representing Native Flower, wasn’t available Wednesday nor Thursday for comment. Wales’ assistant, April Price, said no one at Native Flower was notified about the meeting. She said the next step in the case will be to ask for a trial date and for a judge to decide on the permit.

Tom Smith, who applied for the permit, referred questions to Wales. A number for Kendra Smith, who’s the chief executive officer of Native Flower and listed as an officer for Parcs, went to Tom Smith’s phone.

The lawsuit says the Planning Board reviewed and approved the project in October. The Quorum Court should have followed planning staff opinion, the lawsuit says. The board’s decision was overturned after a neighbor appealed.

Justices of the peace said the facility didn’t fit in the community and should be in a more industrial area or industrial park. Other justices of the peace said they have a moral obligation to disallow the permit.

Justices of the peace voted 11-3 to reject the permit.

The 48 acres where the facility is proposed is off Bush Road near Cane Hill and Lincoln. The property is zoned for agriculture and single-family home use. Native Flower didn’t fit into agricultural use, Kimbrough said.

The Planning Department processed the application as a factory, such as a pharmaceutical company.

The proposal is for a 4,160-square-foot work center, or “head house,” and four 3,840-square-foot greenhouses on 1.5 acres, county records show. Security would be high and traffic low, according to county records.

The property could become one of five facilities in the state for growing pot for medical use. The state would have to approve its license. Medical marijuana isn’t yet available to patients in Arkansas, but the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission is reviewing hundreds of applications to license businesses to grow and sell the drug.

Scarlet Sims can be reached by email at ssims@nwadg.com or on Twitter @NWAScarlets.

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