Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune ran a story alleging that cannabis company Green Thumb Industries Inc. (OTCQX: GTBIF) was under federal investigation for possible pay-to-play violations during its push for coveted state licenses. The article cited an unnamed source. The story claimed that investigators were looking into campaign donations as the company was seeking licenses in Illinois. No charges have been filed in the investigation according to the story. The stock fell over 11% in trading on Tuesday as the article made the rounds.
The story was relatively vague and stated, “It’s unclear what specific aspects of Green Thumb’s political giving, hiring or other activities are being scrutinized by federal authorities. The exact time frame and origin of the probe were not known.”
In a statement, Green Thumb said it possesses absolutely no evidence to corroborate claims that there is an open investigation by federal authorities as alleged in an article by the Chicago Tribune under a misleading headline published on March 29, 2021.
Green Thumb said it first learned of the alleged probe into supposed violations regarding obtaining licenses from a Chicago Tribune reporter who cited unnamed sources shortly before the article was published. The company went on to say that Federal authorities have made no effort to initiate contact with Green Thumb.
“The Chicago Tribune has published unfounded allegations that completely contradict our corporate values,” said Green Thumb Founder and CEO Ben Kovler. “The reporter did not cite any credible sources nor evidence, and published under a salacious front page headline intended to mislead. This is not just irresponsible journalism but reckless behavior that impacts the livelihood of our employees, the close bond to the communities in which we serve, and the trust of our investors. Our company has secured licenses through competitive state-run programs and traditional M&A transactions. We have taken painstaking measures to scale compliantly as we provide access to well-being through cannabis, and will continue to hold ourselves to the highest standards.”
The article did state that records showed that GTI’s executives and affiliates donated to a number of politicians as well as a political action committee that was instrumental in the marijuana legalization effort. However, that is common practice in every state where companies are pushing for legalization. The story didn’t mention whether other Illinois license holders had also donated to the legalization effort.
The story said that the company also hired lobbyists and consultants with deep ties to then-House Speaker Michael Madigan. Yet, it failed to note that most of the license holders in the state also helped support the fight for legalization by making donations.