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Nevada Governor Forms Task Force After Report Of Failed Foreign Corruption Effort

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A report came out this week involving a failed attempt by a group with Ukranian ties that were reportedly trying to obtain a Nevada cannabis business license via corrupt means. 

The report has resulted in Nevada’s Governor forming a task force to investigate any possible corruption in the state’s emerging legal cannabis industry.

A federal court indictment was filed on Friday in New York which charged four men with illegally funneling foreign money to political campaigns in the United States.

The indictment detailed how the men missed a September 2018 adult-use cannabis license application deadline and then reportedly organized an effort to try to convince Nevada’s Governor to change industry rules.

Contributions of $10,000 to the failed campaigns of Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt and Republican attorney general candidate Wesley Duncan were determined to be part of the indictment once the indictment was crossreferenced with Nevada state political contribution records.

In addition to Laxalt and Duncan, the indictment also detailed troubling allegations involving one of the biggest cannabis opponents to ever serve in Congress, former Texas Republican Representative Pete Sessions. Pete Sessions was defeated in the 2018 election.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued the following press release on Friday after the indictment was filed:

Today, the Governor released the following statement regarding ongoing issues surrounding the legalized marijuana market as well as his immediate response in the form of a multi-state agency special task force:

The Governor is outraged by yesterday’s news that a foreign national attempted to influence Nevada’s elections through a million-dollar laundering scheme in order to gain a marijuana license and enter our legalized market.

Yesterday’s indictments and their connections to Nevada, in combination with ongoing issues in Nevada’s legalized marijuana industry – such as illegal sales to minors, serious allegations of manipulated lab results, and a licensing process mired in litigation – have led the Governor to expedite regulatory and enforcement measures. Many of these enhanced measures were originally intended to be implemented at the start of the Governor’s Cannabis Compliance Board, but in the interest of time and the public health and safety of Nevadans, the Governor has formed a multi-state agency special task force to root out potential corruption or criminal influences in Nevada’s marijuana marketplace, effective immediately. Any marijuana entity – licensed or unlicensed – that violates the law will see swift and severe criminal and regulatory action.

The Governor is disappointed in the lack of oversight and the inaction from the state over many years that led us to this critical juncture – including the apparent absence of a single criminal referral by the Marijuana Enforcement Division since the inception of licensed marijuana sales, medical or recreational, in Nevada. Governor Sisolak’s administration is taking immediate action in order to protect the health and safety of Nevadans, the jobs created by the industry, and the long-term sustainability of education funding generated from the legalized marketplace.