There has been some recent developments in the legal cannabis industries in Colorado and Washington that are fueling the national worry over cannabis regulation and giving the industry a bad reputation to boot.
Recent cases in Colorado and Washington are the first known instances of current or former cannabis regulators being accused of having improper and illegal dealings with the industry.
In Colorado, there has been a recent case causing a stir, and it has unfortunately caught the U.S. Justice Department’s attention. Former Colorado cannabis enforcement officer Renee Rayton is being accused of helping cannabis growers raise plants for illegal out-of-state sales.
Colorado state investigators say the cannabis enforcement officer, who specialized in warehouse inspection, quit her job last year and immediately went to work for the cannabis black market, taking a reported $8,000-a-month as a compliance consultant for Scott Pack, a Denver-based cannabis entrepreneur.
Rayton apparently started working for Pack — and pocketing cash from illegal operations — barely two weeks after leaving her cannabis enforcement position, which is in violation of state policies requiring a six-month “cooling off” period before former state employees can work in an industry related to their position.
A June 7 indictment said that Rayton told the growers she could help them “get legal” through her contacts at the Colorado cannabis enforcement agency. The indictment continued that Rayton had “vast knowledge” of cannabis regulations and “must have been aware” that other defendants in the case were growing the plant illegally.
Rayton and Pack were already the target of fraud allegations, and were indicted with three others. According to court records and The Cannabist, warrants were filed for the arrest of Rayton; Scott Pack, whose businesses Harmony Green LLC and HGCO LLC also were charged; and Travis Bridle and John Edward Loos, both growers and suspected workers within the operation.
Pack holds 14 cannabis licenses, and earlier this year he has been sued by former inve4stors who claimed to have lost close to one million dollars because of Pack and his partners.
Rayton is charged with conspiracy to illegally grow cannabis. Rayton’s attorney told The Associated Press she is innocent. Pack was charged with 11 counts, all felonies, and his businesses were also charged.
Additionally, in Washington, the state agency that regulates cannabis recently fired an employee who leased land to a prospective cannabis grower, which violates Washington rules prohibiting state cannabis regulators from having a financial stake in a business within the industry.
It is vitally important that states tightly regulate an industry like cannabis, as it has finally come out from the black market, but the habits may be hard to break for the underbelly of society.