The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating whether or not the cannabis industry in Sacramento is allegedly involved in corruption and bribery with local officials.
According to The Sacramento Bee, the FBI is looking into details regarding specific cannabis businesses that may have bribed political officials for cannabis licenses or other favorable treatment. The investigations first began over the past few months and were being conducted before the closure of a dispensary that made headlines, because it was tied to an indicted Ukranian man named Andrey Kukushkin.
The FBI declined to comment on the official proceedings of the investigation. “The FBI neither confirms nor denies such an investigation,” spokeswoman Gina Swankie stated. “Who is making such a claim?” The FBI will not confirm that the investigation is happening, although The Sacramento Bee has information to support these claims.
The investigation is said to have began shortly after the FBI released a podcast on Aug. 15, entitled “Corruption Threat Emerges in Marijuana Industry,” claiming they are “seeing a public corruption threat emerge in the expanding cannabis industry.” It’s assumed that the organization feels that some things need to be looked at a bit more closely. During that podcast, they also asked for tips and leads on corruption.
Garib Karapetyan, the dispensary owner who has already been investigated, claims that he has been instructed not to talk to journalists. “I can tell you that my clients haven’t done anything different than anything any of the other [dispensary operators] have done in the city,” he said. “Everything we did was above board and done with the blessing of the city.” According to The Sacramento Bee, Karapeytan donated money to various politicians in Sacramento.
As California works through the evidence of corruption in the industry and figures out how to balance legal cannabis compliance in the face of many illegal businesses and growers, incidents like this will continue to arise until stronger methods of enforcement are taken.