Colorado’s Drug Kingpin Trying to Gain Foothold in New York
When one thinks of drug kingpins, shady dealings, dubious associations, a cursory relationship to ethical behavior and unconscionable money grabs are what usually come to mind. With New York set to award five licenses to medicinal marijuana dispensaries, kingpins from around the country are poised to take the Empire State by storm.
That is not to say that every one of the 43 medicinal marijuana applicants is a shady dealer. There are some organizations that are owned by actual physicians who seek to apply their healing disciplines to the burgeoning industry. This story isn’t about them.
Josh Stanley, founder of the first medical marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado, is hoping to peddle his wares in New York. Mired in controversy, amid accusations of ethical breaches for not disclosing dubious associations that may violate state laws, Stanley and the Civita Medical Group, his organization of non-doctors, are forging ahead with their plains to gain a foothold in New York’s cannabis biz.
According to an article in the New York Post:
The state of Colorado charged a weed company he used to own with not keeping track of its ganja.
Stanley’s former firm, Nutritional Supplement LLC, settled the case by giving up its license. Stanley signed his own settlement with Colorado in December, a few months before applying for a New York license.
Stanley — now operating in New York as Citiva Medical LLC — is one of 43 operators hoping to win one of five licenses to grow, manufacture and sell marijuana in the Empire State. Several of them have political ties or colorful backgrounds.
On June 24 and 26, 2013, state investigators found Nutritional could not provide records of its plant count, patient records and visitor logs. In February 2014, Nutritional was hit with seven violations.
In August, Nutritional admitted to six violations and agreed to surrender its license.
Perhaps the most infamous of the aspiring weed profiteers is Dean Petkana,
Chief Financial Officer of Stratton Oakmont, the predatory brokerage firm of “The Wolf of Wall St,” infamy. Petkana is now owner of Kannalife Science. That business is based out of his house in Long Island.
The Post says that Petkana was cited three times for securities violations by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and paid thousands of dollars in fines. The former Wall Street Wolf is also into the IRS for $40,000 in unpaid taxes.
If Stanley and Petkana aren’t smarmy enough for you, there’s also Abe Eisner, who counts himself as one of Governor Cuomo’s closest advisors. Eisner is advocating on behalf of New York Medical Growers LLC, another group of medicinally-monikered hopeful weed sellers, and not an M.D. in the bunch.
In 2012, Eisner’s mortgage firm GFI Mortgage Bankers, paid more than $3.5 million to settle claims that the company charged higher interest rates and fees to black and Latino borrowers.
Donald Sterling, the deposed former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, who was forced to sell the team after a secretly recorded racist rant came to light, was similarly found liable of housing discrimination in Federal Court. Who knows? Maybe he’ll try to sell some bud the next go ‘round.
One would think that all of that notoriety would preclude some of these suspicious characters from consideration for one of New York’s coveted dispensary slots. Well, one would be wrong.
Not only are they viable applicants, many of them are as mainstream and politically connected as anyone could be.
The U.S. government arrests 650,000 Americans for marijuana offenses every year. It seems those people would have been better off trying their hands at banking fraud and housing discrimination. If this rogues list of aspiring pot peddlers (as opposed to actual physicians) is any indication, they might have been better situated to prosper in New York’s new marijuana marketplace.