Law enforcement authorities across the country, including the FBI, have cast a wide net in their efforts to root out corruption among local government officials overseeing the marijuana industry.
The crackdown has ensnared local government and cannabis industry officials in states such as California, Massachusetts and Michigan. Charges have included bribery and extortion.
While claims of licensing bias and flawed scoring are more common, an examination of the landscape suggests that there have been a number of blatant efforts over the years to improperly influence public officials into awarding highly coveted marijuana licenses.
Such corruption, combined with flawed and biased licensing, undermines the process, hurting the opportunities for businesses that play by the rules, industry experts warn.
In California, for example, local corruption became enough of an issue last year that it was identified as a hurdle for marijuana business license seekers in the newly regulated state.
Elsewhere, Nevada’s cannabis licensing director recently was placed on administrative leave after…