Missouri medical marijuana rollout probe extends to governor’s office

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A Missouri investigation into the state’s medical cannabis licensing process by the state Legislature has resumed, and the situation – which has drawn the interest of the FBI – now extends to the governor’s office.

The Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight this week sent a formal records request to the state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), The Kansas City Star reported, in its quest to determine if there were any improprieties during the recent MMJ permitting process.

The committee’s work had been on hold since February because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the legislative committee restarted the investigation because the state’s permitting process is ongoing and the medical marijuana market is set to launch later this year.

The Missouri licensing process has been under fire for months and has resulted in more than 800 appeals by applicants who contend the permitting system was flawed.

The committee’s request includes records for communications between the DHSS and the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association as well as records related to BeLeaf Medical, a vertically integrated marijuana company in the state.

A longtime political operative close to Gov. Mike Parsons, Robert Tilley, is a lobbyist for both the trade association and BeLeaf Medical.

The Star reported that Tilley and a spokesperson for the trade association could not immediately be reached for comment.

The FBI has also sought information about the state’s medical cannabis licensing process and Tilley’s relationship to MMJ companies and Parson’s administration, the Star reported.

The FBI has been investigating corruption allegations in the cannabis licensing processes in various states.

The legislative committee also requested communications between the DHSS and the governor’s deputy chief of staff that are centered on the hiring of the state’s MMJ czar, Lyndall Fraker.