Feds scrutinize cannabis MSO Green Thumb Industries

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Green Thumb Industries, an Illinois-based cannabis multi-state operator (MSO), is being probed by the feds for alleged involvement in corruption pertaining to political donations. This is according to a report initially published by the Chicago Tribune.

Based on word from the newspaper, federal authorities are in the process of “scrutinizing campaign donations and other steps Green Thumb Industries took as it sought to secure growing and distribution licenses in Illinois and several other states.”

However, the federal agency has not yet been named, nor have any details been divulged regarding the length of the probe or its inception. Chicago Tribune reporters claim that the investigation was brought to their attention by unidentified sources.

Despite the allegations, criminal charges have not been filed against Green Thumb or its executives. In fact, a Tribune spokesperson revealed that the company was oblivious to the federal intervention until recently.

“These are unfounded allegations that completely undermine the actions Green Thumb has taken since day one to compliantly grow our business,” wrote the company CEO, Ben Kovler, in a Twitter post.

After being informed by a Tribune reporter that the investigation was being carried out, Kovler said that Green Thumb is “actively reaching out to the authorities to engage on these allegations.”

Previous lawsuit targeted Green Thumb CEO for stealing company ideas from associate

Back in 2017, Kovler had a lawsuit filed against him for stealing business ideas. The suit, which was filed by a former business associate named Cary Neiman, claimed that Kovler ripped off a number of company-related ideas. One of those ideas related to the name “Green Thumb”, which the plaintiff accused Kovler of stealing following a deal that granted him the position of head grower with a one percent cut of foreseeable profits.

Still pending in Cook County Circuit Court, the suit claims that Kovler boasted about the fact that he was connected with influential business professionals and politicians in the Illinois area during a meeting that took place in 2014. Kovler allegedly gloated about the ease of obtaining licenses with him in the picture; something he put down to his powerful connections.

“My access to capital and the relationships I have forged within the Illinois business and political world from (Chicago) to Springfield, as well as my family’s name, means that without me it is doubtful you will even secure one license,” reads an excerpt from the court filing outlining what Kovler purportedly told Neiman.

Court documents demonstrate Kovler’s resistance to the accusations.

About Green Thumb Industries

Since its inception in 2014, Green Thumb has emerged as one of the biggest legal cannabis companies in the U.S. Boasting a footprint across 15 states, the cannabis producer maintains an estimated market cap of $5 billion.

Following the legalization of medical cannabis in Illinois eight years ago, GTI became one of the state’s first licensees to legally begin cultivating the plant for medicinal purposes.

GTI’s outlook is good, with the company’s previous-year revenue exceeding half a billion dollars with — an estimated market capitalization of $5 billion. This is according to recently-disclosed financial reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Green Thumb can be found trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker “GTII” and on the U.S. over-the-counter markets as “GTBIF”.