California’s state government has had enough of corruption in its marijuana industry at the city and county level, and is launching a new crackdown in at least six yet-to-be-named jurisdictions, to look for evidence of pay to play schemes, bribery, and other instances of wrongdoing.
State Auditor Grant Parks told California lawmakers on Wednesday that, at the request of state Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, state auditors will be examining “a fairly good sample” of marijuana business permits to see if there are any discrepancies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“If we don’t clean house, nobody else will. I think this will prove to the public that we take corruption very seriously,” Jones-Sawyer told the Times.
During the Wednesday hearing, a spokeswoman for the California Cannabis Industry Association lauded the move and said the current licensing system – which requires municipal or county sign-off before state cannabis business permits are granted – makes locals into gatekeepers for the industry and encourages corruption.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson also said there’s a broad “undercurrent of misconduct” in California cannabis licensing, and suggested that his hometown of Fresno should be part of the state inquiry.
Corruption issues have been rife in California since even before the 2018 inception of its recreational cannabis market, often with locals trading MJ business licenses for cash or other such favors, but until recently there hasn’t been enough political will in Sacramento to tackle the issue, the Times reported.