The FBI is looking into potential corruption in the burgeoning U.S. marijuana industry – particularly in Western markets – and is seeking tips to investigate.
“As an increasing number of states change their marijuana legislation, the FBI is seeing a public corruption threat emerge in the expanding cannabis industry,” FBI spokeswoman Mollie Halpern said on a podcast released by the FBI on Thursday.
“States require licenses to grow and sell the drug – opening the possibility for public officials to become susceptible to bribes in exchange for those licenses.”
She asked listeners to contact local FBI field offices if they suspect either a dispensary is operating illegally or public corruption in the marijuana industry.
Supervisory Special Agent Regino Chavez added that the FBI has learned of some cannabis business licenses being sold for as much as $500,000, an indicator of how much of a corrupting influence license caps can have for the new market.
And FBI Intelligence Analyst David Kirschner said the issue won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
Several industry sources have separately confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily that they’ve spoken with FBI agents in recent years.
What they’ve often discussed is the possibility of corruption and pay-to-play situations in the awarding of business licenses.
Corruption has been an ongoing obstacle in California for many entrepreneurs.
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John Schroyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org