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Sentinel: S.B. City Hall Cannabis Licensing: ‘Indications’ of Graft involving officials, staff and City Manager

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Synopsis: On February 25, Washington LLC filed a lawsuit against the City of San Bernardino which essentially charges the city’s officials with being on the take. “Over 50 percent of the issued licenses were illegal, thereby throwing the entire process into doubt.”Allegations are that City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller abused her authority throughout the licensing process by accepting a late application, modifying the application guidelines at will and without city council approval to satisfy her own licensing agenda.  Dr. Majid Seraj, a Redlands-based biochemist and pharmacist, told the council he was nervous about a complete and utter failure by the city at every phase of the licensing process.  The City, aware of the police department’s knowledge of the graft its members are engaging in, was attempting to buy the police department off with the do-nothing promotions. Significant portions of the community have come together to recognize that bribes and kickbacks are being handed around to them or their colleagues.

Indications Of Graft In SB’s Cannabis Business Permitting Process Mount

Sentinel  –  March 22, 2019 by Venturi

Evidence that graft has infused the cannabis-related business operation permitting and licensing process at San Bernardino City Hall involving both elected officials and staff continued to accrue this week.
Suspicions that something was amiss surfaced some time ago, well before the city undertook at its February 21 meeting to grant licensure to 16 entities. With the granting of the licenses, several of which went to applicants that did not conform with the city’s codes and requirements, the case against city officials grew ever stronger in the minds of many members of the public. The popular indictment was cinched when it was subsequently shown that at least six applicants which were in compliance were denied permits. Given the amount of money that had been provided to the city’s elected leadership by several of the successful applicants in the form of disclosed and visible campaign contributions, the widespread impression was that money provided under-the-table to the decision-makers was a factor as well.
Moreover, city officials did nothing to dispel those notions when, in justifying the provision of those permits to the entities that are out of compliance with the regulations the council itself insisted on instituting last year, they stated they had merely relied upon a ranking of the applicants and their qualifications provided by the city’s so-called cannabis consultant, HdL. Conveniently for them, however, HdL was not available to explain the criteria upon which those rankings were based or provide a defense of why companies which had made efforts to meet the conditions were denied and those that ignored the regulations succeeded.
Among those requirements is the maintenance of a buffer zone of 600-feet between homes and cannabis businesses unless there is an intervening barrier, such as a freeway, railroad track or flood control channel. There are similar separation requirements with regard to churches, schools, other cannabis-related businesses and concerns selling or serving alcohol.
For several years, the overwhelming number of members on the city council were adamantly opposed to allowing the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, which the city had the discretion to permit under the auspices of the Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act put in place by the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. The city and the city council gamely sought throughout much of the current decade to shut down any such bootleg operations that were set up by those willing to brave the city’s enforcement action, even as an overwhelming number of such enterprises popped up and City Attorney Gary Saenz opined that the effort to clamp down on them was essentially “futile.”

San Bernardino Sentinel complete story, this Link.

 

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