Michigan’s governor has asked the state police to investigate and determine if any state officials have accepting bribes from those wanting to participate in the medical cannabis market.
In Garden City, bribe attempts were allegedly made to city officials regarding opening a medical cannabis dispensary in the city. Officials were offered $15,000 in exchange for approving a medical cannabis cultivation facility. It was discovered that a $150,000 escrow account had been opened to facilitate other bribes.
Sen. David Knezek, whose district included Garden City, sent a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder last Monday requesting the state investigate if any officials are being bribed by hopeful business owners. “It is deeply concerning to me that a state official may have been involved in this serious situation,” Knezek wrote in his letter to Snyder. “If he/she accepted funds in return for government favors, the state employee would be in violation of many sections of state law.”
Knezek also noted that even though the FBI has an ongoing probe on the cannabis industry, he doesn’t want state officials to “drop the ball” and miss investigating state employees taking a cut of the cannabis industry in the state illegally. “I am aware that federal authorities don’t always communicate the details of their investigations with state officials,” he continued. “It is imperative that this case not slip through the cracks and go without the state looking into potential criminal wrongdoing of its own employee.”
The Michigan medical industry cannabis is expected to generate more than $700 million in sales annually, including $21 million in taxes for the state. This could be increased if voters in November approve recreational cannabis.
Currently, Michigan is working under an extended deadline to process applications under their new rules for medical cannabis businesses. Businesses already open must reapply for a new license, and the state had to push back the deadline to allow more time to process the applications. Only seven of the 600 license applications have been approved.