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With California Awash in Cannabis Cash, the Industry Struggles With Corruption

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey, seen in this undated photo, says he was offered $1 million to protect illegal marijuana grows located in his county. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey, seen in this undated photo, says he was offered $1 million to protect illegal marijuana grows located in his county. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Sheriff Jon Lopey was startled when the mysterious stranger offered him $1 million if he would keep deputies away from certain illegal cannabis farms in Siskiyou County.

Lopey called in the FBI, and, later, deliveries of envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash were recorded by cameras and microphones hidden on the sheriff’s cluttered, wooden desk. Two people were later indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to bribe the elected sheriff.

“I was surprised and offended that a citizen would believe a law enforcement administrator would compromise his ethics and morals by accepting money,” said Lopey, whose rural county abuts the Oregon border and strictly outlaws outdoor pot farms.

In the more than two years since California voters approved the licensed growing and sale of recreational marijuana, the state has seen a half-dozen government corruption cases as black-market operators try to game the system, through bribery and other means. The cases are tarnishing an already troubled roll-out of the state permitting of pot businesses as provided for when voters approved Proposition 64 in November 2016.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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