The FBI announced on Thursday it is seeking tips on public corruption involving marijuana businesses. Currently, agents have found corruption primary localized in western states where recreation cannabis has been legalized.
In San Luis Obispo County, government employees and marijuana business insiders have accused public officials of pay-to-play in providing permits for cultivation and retail shops.
“States require licenses to grow and sell the drug—opening the possibility for public officials to become susceptible to bribes in exchange for those licenses,” FBI Public Affairs Specialist Mollie Halpern said on a short podcast. “The corruption is more prevalent in western states where the licensing is decentralized—meaning the level of corruption can span from the highest to the lowest level of public officials.”
As legal recreational marijuana use expands, FBI analyst David Kirschner said to expect the corruption problem to increase.
“It’s our role as the FBI to help to ensure that the corruption doesn’t spread in this new industry,” Kirschner said.
Halpern ends the podcast with a plea to listeners who “suspect a dispensary is operating with an illegally obtained license, or suspect public corruption in the marijuana industry, contact your local FBI field office.”