Two Oklahoma legal professionals have been billed with multiple counts of obtaining their legal assistants lend their names to clinical marijuana grow licenses, supplying their out-of-state customers a way to get close to residency needs by a follow condition officials termed “ghost house owners.”
Attorney Normal John O’Connor declared the charges Thursday, contacting it an example of how severe the state is having illegal expand operations that are misusing Oklahoma’s authorized health-related marijuana system.
“Over 400 cannabis increase (operations) in the point out of Oklahoma detailed the Jones-Brown regulation organization workforce as the homeowners,” reported O’Connor, referring to condition law that necessitates cannabis grow functions to be owned by an Oklahoma resident.
Eric Brown and Logan Jones were every single billed with many counts of conspiracy, falsifying documents, and cultivation of a dangerous material.
Brown’s attorney denied any wrongdoing and explained the two ended up no for a longer period companions.
Brown’s “conduct and expertise of what went on is inconsistent with the psychological state or prison intent needed to violate the legislation,” reported Ken Adair, who is representing Brown.
Jones did not react to a message requesting comment.
Investigators with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics explained they interviewed 4 staff members of the Jones-Brown law agency who admitted to staying used to utilize for professional medical marijuana increase licenses with the state.
Just one lawful assistant explained to investigators she was paid out $3,000 for each individual license she place her identify on, with at minimum $1,000 paid out back again to the regulation agency, and “was assembly with clients so routinely this was the only sort of perform she was undertaking,” according to affidavits submitted in Garvin County court docket.
Other ‘ghost owner’ operations currently being investigated
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is investigating other probable “ghost owner” operations.
“It actually took us 14 months on this a person scenario, there are some we have been functioning on even for a longer time,” bureau Director Donnie Anderson explained.
Anderson said the two legal professionals who have been charged represented overseas people who ended up rising cannabis in Oklahoma and transport it out of state.
The bureau mentioned it was able to devote more investigators to illegal cannabis operations in latest several years, which has led to other expenses, which include a statewide raid this year that led to various arrests and the seizure of 100,000 vegetation and 2,000 kilos of processed cannabis.
Anderson mentioned the operate of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is essential to catching “ghost homeowners” for the reason that the Oklahoma Health-related Cannabis Authority, the point out company that oversees licensing, is normally not able to detect a fraudulent license application.
“OMMA has caught some criticism around this but this is not OMMA’s fault mainly because when you examine these all the things (appears) in line,” Anderson mentioned about licenses that fraudulently use an Oklahoman’s name.
In November, the Oklahoma Professional medical Marijuana Authority, which is at this time beneath the State Section of Health, will turn out to be a standalone agency, a go lawmakers believe that will enable it improved enforce licensing rules.
“Making OMMA a stand-by itself agency is vital to offer with the complexity of regulation and compliance of the increasing health-related cannabis market,” reported Dwelling Vast majority Ground Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, who co-authored the laws building OMMA independent. “This will assist us minimize down on the black market place that threatens the wellbeing of Oklahomans and thoroughly control the genuine companies approved by voters.”
Since voters authorised health-related marijuana in 2018, a lot more than 400,000 individual and business licenses have been issued by the state.
This write-up initially appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma AG prices two lawyers in ‘ghost owner’ marijuana scheme