SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento’s Office of Cannabis Management is under scrutiny. Mayor Darrell Steinberg is calling for an audit of the office, and a temporary ban of ownership transfers among the city’s dispensaries.
The wild frontier of the legalized weed business has Sacramento city hall leaders suddenly seeking tighter controls over the cannabis permits, after a high-profile federal indictment of Ukrainian-born California businessman Andrey Kukushkin was filed for violating campaign finance law, seeking to funnel money to Nevada politicians.
Kukushkin’s name is also on the permit for a Sacramento pot shop “Twelve Hour Care (THC)” on Fruitridge Road. One of his pot shop associates, Garib Karapetyan, has amassed eight pot shop permits in Sacramento, nearly one-third of all the pot shops in Sacramento.
The concentration of cannabis permits by one person is currently allowed under Sacramento law.
Mayor Steinberg spoke about the issue from the city council dais during Tuesday’s council meeting.
“Today I would like to ask our independent city auditor Jorge Oseguera, to take a deep look at our rules, and whether they need to be safeguarded against over-concentration of permits,” Steinberg said.
The city auditor says he will be looking into how one individual got so many permits.
“The city might want to contemplate making some changes to the city ordinances, to have some better control, over how that plays out going forward,” Oseguera said.
The Sacramento Bee has reported the FBI is investigating whether pot businesses paid bribes to Sacramento officials.
“Has the FBI called your office to ask about any information,” CBS13’s Steve Large asked Oseguera.
“No,” Oseguera said.
The attorney for Karapetyan, Brad Hirsch, issued a statement reading: “as we have always done in the past we will fully cooperate with the appropriate licensing authorities and provide them with complete and truthful information.”
Sacramento’s first Chief of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement Joe Devlin was escorted from city hall in May. The city has not commented on whether he was forced out or he left the position on his own.
Now only months after leaving, the city hall’s pot shop permit process is under scrutiny.