Sacramento pot industry under fire as mayor calls for investigation

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The legal pot industry in Sacramento has come under new scrutiny.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for an investigation following reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the way Sacramento issued permits to marijuana dispensary owners.

“Today I would like to ask out independent city auditor, Jorge Oseguera, to take a deep look at our permitting rules and whether they need to be changed to safeguard against over-concentration with one individual or group,” the mayor said.

Steinberg also wants to know whether public officials might have taken payments in exchange for fast-tracked permits and other preferential treatment for some dispensary owners.

“The city could’ve better documented how these permits were being issued,” Oseguera said.

Oseguera already conducted one audit on Sacramento’s dispensaries back in 2017.

“We’ve been making progress since then in improving the city’s program,” he said.

Whatever progress was made, the Sacramento Bee reported this week one dispensary owner in the city, Garib Karapetyan, had business and financial ties to a man indicted for funneling foreign money into American elections, along with two other Ukrainian nationals with ties to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

While one dispensary permit is usually hard to come by, Karapetyan and his business partners somehow acquired eight of them. There were only 30 issued in total.

“We’ve had a real problem with the city for several years that they are aware of,” said Sacramento dispensary owner Lanette Davies. “I would like to say that they weren’t but that’s a lie. They’re well aware of the issues.”

Davies said the city knew about the alleged licensing corruption and did not do enough to stop it. She claimed she was one of the concerned owners raising red flags to the city for years.

“We had buying and selling of permits. We had unequal distribution of how the rules were being implemented,” she told FOX40. “I laid this all on the auditor’s desk and said, ‘Please, would you review this.’”

Davies said in the past, she has given the FBI data and records about dispensary owners. She said she hopes federal investigators will succeed where, as she sees it, the city has failed.

“I think that the FBI … I welcome them. I think the city should also welcome them,” Davies said.

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