Ascend Counters MedMen Claims About Influencing New York Politicians

Ascend Wellness Holdings is countering MedMen’s claims that they held undue influence with New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration during a legal fight about a company takeover.

Full story after the jump.

In its legal battle against MedMen in New York, Ascend Wellness Holdings is accusing the company of fabricating a narrative that it “exerted undue influence on New York State government officials in order to obtain regulatory approval” for its $73 million takeover of Medmen’s New York operations, the Times Union reports.

The two multistate cannabis companies have been at odds since December when both Ascend and the state Office of Cannabis Management claimed the companies had the regulatory approvals necessary to go through with their deal but MedMen claimed that the state regulators’ approvals could not be considered final and that officials’ assurances to that effect had been unduly influenced by Ascend’s political giving. Earlier this month, MedMen motioned to subpoena Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, claiming her administration used its influence to help Ascend purchase MedMen’s New York business as the firm was looking to end the deal.

The Times Union notes that those subpoena requests were approved last week but in Ascend’s recent Supreme Court motion, it outlines MedMen’s own 2018 donations to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign and state Attorney General Letitia James.

In the updated complaint, Ascend said it has already made “almost $8.5 million in cash payments to bail out MedMen” since the takeover deal was signed a year ago. Ascend’s Chief Financial Officer Dan Neville told the Times Union in January that the payments had been made at a time when MedMen was in dire need of a cash infusion.

MedMen had agreed to the deal a year ago but has sought not to move forward in the last few months as the state started the adult-use licensing process. Ascend argues that “MedMen is essentially challenging the regulators’ authority and ignoring the regulations of the state’s medical program.”

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