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Corruption in the Legal Cannabis Industry: Temptation Facilitated by Greed and Cannabis Cultivation

January 20, 2022 08:00 am ET
Corruption in the Legal Cannabis Industry: Temptation Facilitated by Greed and Cannabis Cultivation

A former Massachusetts Mayor, Jasiel Correia, was recently sentenced to six years in federal prison. In May 2021, he was found guilty of extorting cannabis companies and swindling investors via an app called SnoOwl, which some might say was essentially a copy of other more popular apps. Correia took bribes in the form of cash contributions, campaign contributions, and even in the form of mortgage discharges. This is just one example of government corruption with respect to the legal cannabis industry.

In Correia’s case these payoffs ranged anywhere from $75,000 up to $250,000. In exchange for these payoffs, the former Massachusetts mayor would provide a non-opposition letter, which is a requirement to have a cannabis business in a municipality in Massachusetts. The money received from these bribes was used to support Correia’s lavish lifestyle.

Massachusetts, U.S. Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell told media sources that, “Jasiel Correia lied to investors, sold his office, and has no remorse for his crimes.” He went on to say, “Jasiel Correia was a corrupt and deceitful politician who could only be stopped by federal prosecution. Now he has a felony and will be a federal inmate.”

Naturally, Mr. Correia insists upon his innocence, and claims he will file an appeal. He has eight weeks until he must report to prison. As the legal cannabis industry continues to expand, there are an increasing number of government officials using their position of power, and this new and lucrative industry for personal financial gain.

An Eruption of Government Corruption in the Legal Cannabis Industry

The newly emerging legal cannabis industry has cultivated more than just cannabis and jobs. It also produces a lot of capital. The economic impact produced by legal cannabis sales in the United States during 2021 is predicted to achieve an estimated value of around $92 billion. This is more than a 30% growth from the previous year.

Moving forward to 2025, the economic impact is projected to achieve a value of around $160 billion. Some studies such as “The US Cannabis Cultivation Report: 2019 Legal and Illicit Output by State“, conducted by New Frontier Data, suggest that by 2025, America could be producing an estimated 34.4 million pounds of cannabis.

Somewhere between the illicit market and the legal market is a shadowy gray area. This shadowy area is filled with an abundance of dishonest conduct. This conduct ranges from growers and sellers operating illegally, to authority figures abusing their power and misappropriating funds.

Jasiel Correia, the disgraced former mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, isn’t the only authoritative figure to use their position and power for their own personal gain. There are plenty of other examples of government corruption where officials tasked with regulating and monitoring the legal industry abuse their position for financial gain.

A Sly Foxx in North Carolina’s 5th District 

A great example of abuse of power would be that of representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District. This political figure holds a strong position and chooses to stand against cannabis legalization.However, while this candidate stands against cannabis legalization, they do not stand against profiting from the industry.

Representative Foxx has made an estimated six investments at minimum in Altria, one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, that is also well on its way to being one of the world’s biggest and most influential cannabis companies. This may not seem significant, but according to a report, these previously unreported purchases “likely make her the largest holder of marijuana-related stocks in Congress.”

Utilizing privileged access to otherwise private information Virginia Foxx profited off of the suffering of Americans living under the draconian laws of cannabis prohibition. The hypocrisy and government corruption exhibited by Representative Foxx should be of concern to constituents and industry professionals alike.

No Room for Extortion in the Legal Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry has no room for extortion. The cannabis sector is burdened by decades of ill-informed propaganda at the hands of government officials. Countless lives have been destroyed, and when bad actors participate in bribery and corruption in the cannabis space, this contributes to an ongoing negative public image of cannabis and thus hinders progress of the industry overall.

If the harm this corruption causes to the legal cannabis industry’s image isn’t deterrence enough, engaging in corruption has the potential to end a politician’s career. Think twice before engaging in bribery and corruption in the cannabis space, and take the initiative to report it if you witness its occurrence.

If you are holding an authoritative position and are tempted to engage in corruption in the legal cannabis sector, you may want to reconsider your actions. An individual might assume that since this is a new industry no one is policing it yet. However, it appears political figures and other authoritative figures are beginning to be held accountable for their actions and crimes.

Those who extort and accept bribes are doing more than just gaining personal financial wealth and power. They are striking a blow to the community and culture around them. They are hurting the very people their positions are meant to help. If you face corruption at the hands of a politician or authoritative figure, you do not have to remain silent. Get a lawyer so that you protect yourself, and learn more about reporting crimes of any sort to the proper authorities here.

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