California looks to clean up its cannabis industry

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The state plans on picking apart its cannabis industry to weed out corruption

It’s no secret that California continues to experience high rates of corruption in its cannabis industry. “Widespread and blatant,” is how many have described this corruption that simply takes care of damaging everything the industry has managed to obtain in the Golden State. Several officials want to put an end to this problem, and that’s why an investigation into cannabis licensing has been launched to ‘clean house’ on the corruption.

The state has been a victim of pay-to-play schemes. Different cannabis companies, even when regulated, have offered money under the table to obtain a cannabis license or, worse, threatened local officials and city council members to accept money to get into the game. A Times investigation revealed that California was being part of this kind of problem last year.

Officials want to clean up in 2023, and that’s why they are launching an audit aimed at reducing bribes, conflicts of interest and other wrongdoing. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer didn’t want to sit idly by, and after calling for the investigation, the process was authorized by the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee yesterday.

The measure comes roughly six years after California voters approved Proposition 64. This ballot proposition was responsible for legalizing marijuana for adult use and unleashed a wave of corruption that has affected local governments in rural enclaves of Northern California and towns like Calexico near the Mexican border.

The Times’ “Legal Weed, Broken Promises” investigative series prompted other lawmakers to propose hearings and reforms, and that momentum appears to be picking up steam now. The auditors intend to identify six jurisdictions with licensed marijuana businesses and review the criteria used to approve permits. They will be able to sort out which local governments have been rocked by allegations of corruption and others that appear to have fewer such problems.