Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has tasked state police with investigating whether there are officials taking bribes from medical cannabis operators, the Detroit Free Press reported last week.
The investigation was requested by state Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) and was prompted by a bribery case from last year, wherein three men gave an envelope of $15,000 cash to a Garden City city council member and suggested they had another $150,000 in escrow to handle future bribes. The men hoped to secure a license to cultivate medical cannabis in the city. The envelope was turned over to the FBI and the three men were arrested, but Sen. Knezek remains concerned.
“It is deeply concerning to me that a state official may have been involved in this serious situation. If he/she accepted funds in return for government favors, the state employee would be in violation of many sections of state law.” — State Sen. David Knezek, in a letter to Gov. Snyder
Sen. Knezek told the governor that, even though the FBI has an ongoing probe into the issue, he wants state police to conduct their own investigation.
“I am aware that federal authorities don’t always communicate the details of their investigations with state officials. It is imperative that this case not slip through the cracks and go without the state looking into potential criminal wrongdoing of its own employee.” — State Sen. David Knezek, in the letter
Michigan voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2008 but it took lawmakers eight years to establish rules and regulations for the program. Though 600 applications were submitted, just seven licenses have been awarded so far. Experts predict Michigan’s medical cannabis marketplace will be worth $700 million during its first year of operation, with the state anticipating some $21 million in annual taxes.
Michigan is expected to vote on the issue of adult-use cannabis this November, which, if successful, could lead to even more explosive growth in the state’s cannabis sector. The majority of Michigan voters approve of full legalization.