FBI: ‘Cannabis industry is bribing officials for licences’

The FBI says some cannabis businesses are attempting to bribe officials ‘at all levels’ to get hold of a permit.

In its weekly podcast, the agency said it was looking for tip-offs about companies that may have obtained a permit illegally.

FBI agent Regino Chavez told podcast host Mollie Halpern that the agency has seen bribes of as much as $500,000 being handed over by people who want to run a cannabis business.

He said: “We’ve seen in some states the price go as high as $500,000 for a license to sell marijuana.

“So, we see people willing to pay large amounts of money to get into the industry.”

“We’ve seen in some states the price go as high as $500,000 for a license”

FBI agent Regino Chavez

Halpern, an FBI public affairs specialist, added: “The corruption is more prevalent in western states where the licensing is decentralised – meaning the level of corruption can span from the highest to the lowest level of public officials.”

Intelligence analyst David Kirschner added that US states should expect the corruption problem to increase as cannabis becomes more prevalent.

He said: “It’s our role as the FBI to help to ensure that the corruption doesn’t spread in this new industry.

In 2018 the Detroit Free Press reported two family members were jailed for a scheme to pay bribes for a medical marijuana dispensary in Garden City, Michigan

City officials notified federal investigators when they were approached in 2016.

Mike Baydoun was sentenced to 18 months in prison, his while nephew Jalal Baydoun was given a year and a day.