A newly created medical marijuana advocacy group that includes former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and reportedly State Medical Board Chairman Dr. Steven Cathey has waded into controversy only a day after announcing that it would serve as the “leading voice” for the state’s fledgling cannabis trade.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday he was wary of Dr. Cathey serving on the medical board while also holding a board position with the newly established Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association (AMMA) just over a month ahead of the state-imposed deadline to accept bids one of the five cultivation facilities or 32 dispensaries that will likely begin operations in early 2018.
“I was not aware of this decision, and I don’t think someone on the Medical Board should be associated with a medical marijuana advocacy group,” Hutchinson said in response to a query from Talk Business & Politics.
The AMMA announced its formation Wednesday with a board of seven prominent Arkansans and out-of-state consultants that plan to lobby for medical marijuana cultivators, distributors and businesses that serve the industry in Arkansas. On Friday, AMMA’s acting director David Couch responded that the group was honored “to be associated with Dr. Cathey.”
“He has decades of experience as a neurosurgeon, and we believe leadership from a physician is important for an association focused on best practices within the medical marijuana industry,” Couch said. “However, if his position on the board presents any perceived conflicts, we know he will act appropriately.”
However, State Medical Board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer responded in a phone call with Talk Business & Politics that Dr. Cathey would not be a part of the new medical cannabis industry group.
“He is not serving on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association board,” O’Dwyer said emphatically. “They approached him, but he declined to be a member of