Government Fraud Cases Give WA, Colorado Pot Industry Black Eye
Just a few years into legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington state have seen ongoing tension between the states and the Federal government, where pot is still illegal and classified as a narcotic.
Two recent cases involving state pot regulators have added fuel to the fire, especially for those who oppose the legalization of pot. They've also hardened the resolve of some Federal officials to continue to pursue pot cases, despite being legal in these states.
Earlier this year, a Colorado enforcement regulator named Renee Rayton is accused of helping pot growers grow plants for illegal out of state sales. The growers were legally licensed only to grow for the state of Colorado. The Star Tribune Newspaper says Rayton, who quit her job with the state in May to go to work for the illegal pot ring, was reportedly being paid $8,000 a month. She's been formally charged according to June 7 court papers.
The Spokesman Review Newspapers reports in WA that marijuana licensing specialist Grant Bulski was leasing a 25-acre parcel of land to a marijuana "entrepreneur" for $2,824 a month. This violates WA state laws that prohibit state pot regulators from having any financial stake in the marijuana business. However, as of this date he has not been charged with a crime.
Officials say they expected some criminal activity as the industry came 'out of the shadows' when it was legalized. But although there have been only two such cases, the fact they involve state regulators who are trusted to obey the law and oversee the industry is disturbing.
Now, Federal officials are using these as reasons to fight further legalization, and to continue to prosecute pot cases.