Local officials are beginning to decide if they want medical marijuana businesses in their communities before the state starts giving out licenses next year. Wochit
A marijuana leaf.(Photo: Dreamstime/TNS)
One year following an FBI pot sting in a family restaurant parking lot, a Dearborn Heights man who was stung in the setup pleaded guilty to bribing Garden City officials for help with growing a medical marijuana business.
Specifically, Ali Baydoun, 52, was charged with conspiring with two others to bribe public officials in order to obtain authorization to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Garden City, and for a plant grow.
In U.S. District Court today, Baydoun admitted that on Dec. 2, 2016, he along with two associates delivered an evenlope containing $15,000 in cash bribes to a Garden City official. The money was to be divided into three bribes of $5,000 for three Garden City officials.
But unbeknownst to Baydoun, he was handing the money off to an official who was working undercover for the government — not a politician.
According to the U.S. Attorneys office, Baydoun also had placed $150,000 in an account as escrow to pay future bribes to officials.
Baydoun faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in April.
The criminal case first surfaced in a forfeiture filing in U.S. District Court in Detroit, where the FBI offered a glimpse into how potentially lucrative Michigan’s $1-billion medical pot business could be to entrepreneurs. According to documents filed in the Beydoun case, a Garden City restaurant owner told a public official that he could
The Bureau of Cannabis Control has taken a long awaited-step by releasing online applications for retailers, distributors, testing labs and micro-businesses who want to jump into the new state-sanctioned marketplace in the new year.
Kimberly Cargile is executive director of A Therapeutic Alternative, a medical cannabis dispensary in Sacramento. She’s been involved with the California Cannabis Industry Association since it was formed and sits on the board of the California Growers Association.
“We’ve been advocating and working on regulations for a very long time,” says Cargile. “However, we’re still in the stressful (phase). The relief won’t come until we have our license.”
A Therapeutic Alternative will apply for two state licenses: one medical, one recreational. The store’s been operating in Sacramento legally for years but will need to renew its permit. The price tag for those three licenses will come to about $170,000.
And this is the least complicated step. Cargile’s got a serious to-do list to come into compliance.
Like “hiring a new security company, setting up a new point of sales systems, making our building handicap accessible,” Cargile explains. “You know, there’s some really high-dollar costs (coming) in the next 30 days.”
And while hiring a new security company may sound straightforward, it’s not, says Cargile. Over the past five years in her role as executive director of A Therapeutic Alternative, she’s crossed paths with dozens of businesses that simply don’t want a medical marijuana dispensary as a client.
Cargile says discrimination against the industry born out of fear and stereotyping. She’s currently scrambling to find a new bank after her previous one said the dispensary was too “high risk.”
She hopes that the transition to a state-sanctioned marketplace will help dissipate negative representations of the industry.
Not all medical marijuana dispensaries operating legally right now will get
Several Harvard Square property owners alleged that Raj Dhanda, the owner of the Crimson Galeria, misrepresented their opinions on a proposed marijuana dispensary looking to open in the Square.
Several property owners contend that a letter sent by Raj Dhanda, owner of the Crimson Galeria, to Cambridge officials falsely touted their support for Dhanda’s attempt to prevent the opening of a local medical marijuana dispensary.
In the letter to Cambridge mayor E. Denise Simmons, Dhanda wrote that he “communicated with several major property owners in Harvard Square and “they are all opposed to the proposed Marijuana Dispensary at 98 Winthrop Street.” The letter mentions Harvard Square property owners Gerald L. Chan, Peter Palandjian ’87, Eric D. Schlager, and Richard L. Friedman.
But Palandjian, Friedman, and Schlager have all recently said that they in fact did not oppose the opening of Healthy Pharms, the marijuana dispensary, and did not wish to be included in Dhanda’s letter.
“He did communicate with me. I told him clearly I was NOT willing to join him in opposing it,” wrote Palandjian, who owns multiple properties in the Square including buildings housing Qdoba and Tatte.
Friedman, the president and CEO of Carpenter & Company, Inc—which developed businesses like the Charles Hotel—wrote in an emailed statement that he talked on the phone with Dhanda, but that he never consented to have his name in the letter. “I never authorised my name to be used in an objection and factually I have no opinion on the use contemplated,” Friedman wrote.
And Schlager, the CEO of real estate investment firm The Bulfinch Company, also said he vaguely remembered a phone call with Dhanda. “These conversations were private and we were not expecting to be characterized in a public way and honestly I don’t recall
HAVERHILL — On the matter of medical marijuana, the mayor has made up his mind.
Mayor James Fiorentini will be requesting permission from the City Council Tuesday night to sign a letter of non-opposition to Alternative Therapies Group setting up shop in Haverhill, a major step in bringing the first medical marijuana dispensary to the city to a business park located off of Broadway outside Interstate 495.
Based in Newburyport, Alternative Therapies opened the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary in Salem in 2015, and Fiorentini believes the organization, which appeared before the council in September to make its pitch, to be the best fit for the city.
“They’re the only ones who want to go into the district,” said Fiorentini of the city’s medical marijuana overlay district on Computer Drive. “But I believe in competition in this as in any industry, and I’d be open to having other dispensaries in the city.”
Due to Alternative Therapies having already opened a dispensary in the state, Fiorentini believes the company can get up and running quicker than other companies that have expressed interest in coming to the city.
Alternative Therapies was founded in 2012 by Chris Edwards and Julio Fuentes, who serve as the company’s executive director and chief financial officer. During their pitch, the company offered a host community agreement that would provide the city with two $50,000 payments as the dispensary progresses through the permitting process.
Also included in the dispensary’s proposed host community agreement is a provision that gives the city a 1.25 percent cut of Alternative Therapies gross first-year revenue, along with a $25,000 annual charitable donation to the city.
Under the proposed host community agreement, Alternative Therapies, which operates a cultivation site in Amesbury, would increase the city’s cut of its total profits to 3 percent, where it would remain annually.