Nearby officials can simply abuse marijuana program watchdog says, U.S. Lawyer concerned

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Temptation for nearby officials to line their pockets with income from pot vendors is a concern for U.S. Lawyer Andrew Lelling and a major watchdog who warn the program is vulnerable to abuse.

“When the government requires the handle of a monopoly enterprise, it becomes vulnerable to abuse,” stated Greg Sullivan, investigation director at the Pioneer Institute and former state inspector basic. “Everywhere that licenses are becoming issued, that there’s a vulnerability to abuse by nearby officials, and this need to not be the case.”

The challenge of nearby officials possessing the sole discretion in granting marijuana vendors a letter of non-opposition was highlighted by U.S Lawyer Andrew Lelling Friday morning following the arrest of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II on charges he extorted marijuana vendors for $600,000 in money.

According to the indictment, Correia agreed to challenge non-opposition letters to marijuana vendors, which are essential in order to operate in Massachusetts, in return for bribes and other payments.

Lelling stated he’s concerned, “You have a predicament exactly where nearby authorities, nearby mayors, could be sorely tempted to take some sort of bribe or extort some sort of payment in exchange for a letter, and that single letter can be the ticket to a marijuana dispensary opening a extremely profitable enterprise in a offered town.

“Public officials, even in seemingly minor roles, can have tremendous energy more than the lives of private citizens,” stated Lelling.

Sullivan stated the program is “rigged” and the predicament need to be a “wake-up call” for the Cannabis Manage Commission, adding that a nearby official can simply blackmail a vendor by threatening not to grant them the coveted letter of non-opposition.

“When some government official sitting in some workplace someplace has the potential to tap that firm with a magic wand and make them multimillionaires, that is vulnerability to abuse, and it was not supposed to be that way,” stated Sullivan.

Pro-pot advocate Jim Borghesani stated in a statement he applauds Lelling for bringing charges in the bribery scheme, “But I hope that this egregious instance does not eclipse the equivalent monetary shakedowns on the cannabis business present in almost each Host Neighborhood Agreement signed to date in Massachusetts.”

A Cannabis Manage Commission spokeswoman stated the agency is reviewing the indictment against Correia and will monitor any ongoing investigation to defend the integrity of the licensing method for pot shops.

The commission has the authority to exercising its discretion to make a selection about a vendor’s qualifications for licensure.

Customers getting marijuana goods finish up paying 17% to 20% in taxes as firms are topic to 10.75% in excise tax, a six.25% sales tax and up to a three% nearby tax that goes back to the host neighborhood.

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