FALL RIVER — A local medical marijuana company that allegedly pledged $250,000 to former Mayor Jasiel Correia II in exchange for a letter of non-opposition to operate in the city is suing the Cannabis Control Commission to compel it to act on issuing a final license to sell recreational marijuana.
And last week the federal judge assigned to Correia’s 24-count federal criminal case, along with co-defendant Gen Andrade, agreed to amend a protective order of the case’s evidence that will further allow the CCC to review interviews with five marijuana vendors associated with the former mayor’s alleged extortion scheme “as well as in connection with related state court proceedings,” according to a ruling issued last Friday by U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts Judge Douglas Woodlock.
After Correia and Andrade’s arrest on extortion and bribery charges last September, The Herald News, through a source with knowledge of the case who did not have permission to speak publicly and requested anonymity, identified the first of four marijuana vendors allegedly extorted by the former mayor as David Brayton, who was a principal in Xiphias Wellness, now Nature’s Medicine, at the time of the alleged crime.
Brayton is no longer listed on the Secretary of State’s corporation database as an officer in the company; rather the president, treasurer, clerk and director is listed as Jigarkumar Patel of Arizona.
Correia’s indictment and arrest last September on public corruption charges was his second in less than a year, having been charged the previous October for wire and tax fraud associated with a tech business he started before taking office. Both he and Andrade are awaiting trial.
Lawyers for Nature’s Medicine Inc. filed the lawsuit against the CCC in April in Worcester County Superior Court, demanding that it act on issuing final licenses for adult-use marijuana to their Globe Street and Uxbridge dispensary, and an adult-use cultivator license to its Uxbridge facility.
The court filing by Nature’s Medicine accuses the CCC of unnecessarily delaying its recreational license by refusing to add them on its agenda, despite the fact that it was eligible for final approval since September 2019 for both its Fall River and Uxbridge facilities, the month of the final post-provisional licensing procedure.
Nature’s Medicine also indicates it has been unsuccessful getting a reason for the delay from the CCC.
The CCC declined to comment on the case.
“The Cannabis Control Commission would not comment on pending litigation or on the details of a federal investigation. The agency continues to conduct all possible due diligence to ensure marijuana establishments maintain suitability for licensure and has enforcement tools at its disposal if a licensee is found to be in violation of Massachusetts law or regulations,” responded CCC spokeswoman Maryalice Curley.
The marijuana company had asked the court to order the CCC to place the matter on its May agenda, but a check of the agendas for that month and in June indicates Nature’s Medicine’s final recreational license was not placed before the board.
It is unclear if Nature’s Medicine will be included in the July 9 meeting because that agenda is not yet available online.
Curley said the agenda will be available to the public 48 hours before the meeting per open meetings regulations.
With its application stalled, its workforce at the Fall River facility has gone from 67 employees to 17, and with the added COVID-19 pandemic, may need to shutter the Globe Street dispensary due to the ongoing losses.
The court filing indicates that Nature’s Medicine has invested more than $10 million between its Fall River and Uxbridge facilities.
Nature’s Medicine’s attorney, Joshua Grossman, did not immediately return several requests for comment.
After Correia’s and Andrade’s 2019 arrest for allegedly extorting marijuana business owners, the CCC sought permission last February to review interviews with the alleged victims in order to perform its regulatory duties.
Discovery and information on the federal criminal case had been ordered protected from public view after Correia’s first arrest in 2018.
Regarding the information made available to the CCC in connection with Correia’s case, the regulatory agency agreed to “limit the scope of disclosure.”
Email Jo C. Goode at email@example.com.