DOTHAN, Ala. (WIAT) — After months of licensing issues, Dr. Steven H. Stokes submitted his resignation as chairman of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. 

“It is with great disappointment that I tender my resignation from the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission,” Stokes said in a statement Thursday. “I feel that it is in the best interest of the citizens of Alabama, some of whom desperately need access to cannabis to treat their medical conditions, for me to step down.”

In his letter, Stokes wrote that by stepping away from the group, he could “remove a distraction that is holding back progress.”

On June 12, the commission began issuing licenses to Alabama businesses. Over 90 businesses had applied at the time. There were 21 that were granted a license.

Just four days later, the commission announced that they had paused all business license proceedings, citing “potential inconsistencies in the tabulation of scoring.” Group officials then said they would take a hiatus while seeking an independent review. A couple of weeks later, the commission said they hoped to start awarding licenses again on Aug. 10

Two businesses that were not awarded a license during this period were Hornet Medicals, which applied for a processor license, and Alabama Always, which applied for an integrated facility license. 

Alabama Always said they had spent over $5 million on their facility and believed they accurately met all of the application requirements. However, no one from AMCC ever visited the location, according to Alabama Always members. 

AMCC Director John McMillan said the “tabulation” error was not an issue with the evaluators or Commissions’ scores, but somewhere in the combining of the scores. 

Brittany Peters, communications director for the AMCC, said they received Stokes’ resignation letter and “greatly appreciate Dr. Stokes’ contribution to the Commission and anticipate that he will remain at the forefront of the development of Alabama’s medical cannabis program.”

Despite stepping away from the AMCC, Stokes said he feels confident in its future. 

“It has been a profound honor to work with the incredible members of the Commission, all of whom have dedicated countless hours over the last two years to develop the foundation of Alabama’s medical cannabis industry,” Stokes said. “It was a pleasure to serve on the Commission and I believe that the Commission has done, and will continue to do, valuable work for the citizens of this state. 

“While there are those driven by greed who hope to discredit and obstruct this program from moving forward, I know that my fellow members will endeavor to deliver medical cannabis products to the patients of Alabama who are suffering.”

William Somerville, an attorney representing Alabama Always, issued the following statement to CBS 42 regarding Stokes’ resignation:

We have always believed the medical cannabis license process should be open and transparent.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case and there have been apparent conflicts of interest and closed-door meetings shrouded in secrecy that have hampered this process from the very beginning.

We applaud Dr. Stokes for his decision to follow the clear law of the state of Alabama and step down as a member of the Commission.

We and other applicants, who followed the application process to the letter, just want the commission to do what is right – follow the law, adhere to the rules and regulations of the selection process and give each and every application a thorough and comprehensive review.

We are confident, as this process moves forward, that the commission will do the right thing for all applicants and follow the law as intended.

William Somerville, attorney for Alabama Always