Marijuana Dispensary Operators Working As Federal Informants


The Charleston Gazette

Could your medical marijuana dispensary be reporting you to the Feds? Some California collective operators are working as confidential federal informants, according to chilling new information revealed as a result of an ongoing investigation into municipal corruption.

Last week, federal authorities arrested three current and former city officials in Cudahy — the mayor, a city councilman, and a former acting city manager — on bribery charges for allegedly taking $17,000 in bribes from someone who wanted to open a dispensary in the town, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Akrotirianakis, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Former Santa Fe Springs Mayor Joseph Serrano Sr.: “I am saddened, embarrassed, regretful and angry at myself”

Now, former Santa Fe Springs Mayor Joseph Serrano Sr., 62, has agreed to plead guilty to one felony bribery count after it was revealed he accepted $11,500 in bribes from another dispensary operator who wanted the city to allow him to keep his shop open. Serrano faces up to 10 years if convicted.
“I am saddened, embarrassed, regretful and angry at myself,” Serrano said to the city council in announcing his resignation in June, reports Erika Aguilar at KPCC. Serrano had spent nine years on the council; he said he acted alone and that other council members were not involved.
But the bit of chilling news within the Serrano story is this: “Serrano admitted that he asked a dispensary operator, who worked as a confidential informant for the FBI [emphasis added] to give him money in exchange for information about the city’s plans to regulate dispensaries,” the Times tells us.
“Dispensary operators are working as confidential informants,” said San Diego activist Mara Felsen. “These are not isolated occurrences.
“This is how this game is played,” Felsen said. “Without informants, this whole system falls apart. Ignore at your own peril.”
Rumors have already been rife of certain unscrupulous dispensaries turning on other dispensaries by acting as confidential informants — in order to eliminate the competition. Now the specter of collectives potentially informing on their own customers has become another unfortunate effect of America’s schizophrenic legal attitude towards marijuana’s medicinal effects.