Untagged plants, ownership issue threaten RI marijuana grower’s permit

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A major Rhode Island marijuana cultivator could lose its license after state regulators discovered unregistered plants as well as issues surrounding the business’ ownership.

Warwick-based Fire Ganja gets an opportunity to explain itself to the state Office of Cannabis Regulation at a revocation hearing scheduled for Friday, East Providence TV station WPRI reported.

Inspectors flagged the business on Aug. 16 after discovering 1,473 cannabis plants and 1,507 ounces of flower as well as other products that weren’t entered into the state’s track-and-track system during a June inspection, according to WPRI.

The inspection also led to regulators learning about a federal lawsuit between Fire Ganja, aka STJ, and a separate company, San Miguel.

Court documents obtained by WPRI revealed that the lawsuit included “a 2018 agreement that required Fire Ganja owners Mark Laraway and Nicholas Salvadore to transfer ownership stakes to San Miguel in exchange for a delay in repayment of an initial $750,000 loan made in 2017.”

Fire Ganja’s most recent state license application form does list Ed Medeiros of San Miguel as an individual with an “interest” in the business.

Though Fire Ganja insists that San Miguel is only a lender, WPRI reported, regulators say the arrangement amounts to a “material change in ownership” that the business failed to properly disclose – a violation of state law.

The likeliest outcomes of Friday’s hearing all involve Fire Ganja losing its license, according to the TV station.

The potential loss of a marijuana cultivator comes at a time that Rhode Island growers are complaining about an oversupply triggered, in part, by a limited number of retailers.

The state, which began adult-use sales last December, has about 60 licensed cultivators but only seven stores to sell their products.