The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is requesting leads on corruption within the marijuana industry. In a statement Public Affairs expert Mollie Halpern said that the State needs licenses in place to produce or sell Marijuana meaning that public officials may become embroiled in bribery while producers seek licenses. During the FBI podcast Halpern stated that corruption is more prominent in the western states because the licensing process is decentralized. This means that bribery can reach all levels within the public official sector.
Although there have not been any announcements on specific incidents of corruption or even announcements on investigations into public official corruption, the FBI podcast highlighted that as legalization of marijuana spreads throughout the states, more and more cases of corruption are expected.
In some states, the costs to get into the marijuana industry can be as hefty as $500,000 for the license meaning that some people are prepared to pay fairly substantial amounts of money just to break into the industry. Executive Director of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Erik Altieri agrees with the sentiment that the FBI needs to get involved in preventing bad apples infiltrating the marijuana industry. In a statement he said that it is not ideal that the FBI is involved in the licensing process, but it ensures that everything stays above board and fair. They do, however feels that the bar needs to be set lower to allow emerging, smaller businesses can enter the market and thrive.
And while most seem to be on board with the FBI’s request, the director of NCIA, Morgan Fox, believes that the FBI is on a fishing expedition. They feel that corruption would become a nonissue in the industry if the bar was set lower, allowing small businesses to enter the market which would stop people from trying to obtain licenses unethically. They believe that the licensing process should be free of competition entirely.
While the podcast was brief, being just over a minute, the FBI made it clear that they expect people to come forward should they become aware of anyone dispensing marijuana with a license not legally obtained.