ATLANTA – the FOX 5 I-Team continues its investigation into the recent award of Georgia’s first licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana.
Our I-Team found that one of the winning applicants in Georgia was once a business associate with a medical marijuana operator, who admitted that early in his career – with another company – he paid bribes to get his medical marijuana license obtain.
The bribe was paid before the two men became partners.
Well, some say Georgia’s Cannabis Commission should have known more about the company history of the applicants before choosing the winners.
It was big news in a small town far from Georgia. A jury convicted Fall River, Massachusetts Mayor Jasiel Correia for extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana sellers.
The mayor for films was such a sensation that he was the subject of a documentary that is now streamed on The Roku Chanel while awaiting his trial.
One of the main pieces of evidence in the case: a check for $ 100,000 written by the owner of a local medical marijuana company to a friend of the mayor. The check was made out in 2016.
On the same day the money changed hands, Mayor Correia signed a letter authorizing David Brayton, owner of a medical marijuana business, “to run a registered marijuana dispensary in Fall River.”
Brayton testified that he had been given “immunity” for the “bribe” for giving truthful testimony during the mayor’s trial.
What does this have to do with medical marijuana in Georgia? While waiting to testify about the payment of this bribe, David Brayton changed the name of his company to Nature’s Medicines, according to company records. He took on a new partner: Jigar Patel, an Arizona medical marijuana proprietor.
Jigar Patel is now listed as the CEO of Natures GA – one of only six companies to have obtained a medical marijuana license here in Georgia.
Natures GA, a Georgia medical marijuana company, was affiliated with a business partner who admitted they paid bribes for a license in another state. (FOX 5 Atlanta)
What should the people of Georgia think of it?
“You should be outraged,” says Charlie Arnold, CEO of Cumberland Curative.
Arnold’s company is one of the losing companies applying for a medical marijuana license in Georgia. They filed an official protest, calling the offer “riddled with significant errors”, “unfair” and “clearly arbitrary”. He was surprised when I told him that Natures GA’s motion made no mention of Jigar Patel’s and David Brayton’s business relationship.
“I think that’s another big problem, even if the commission wasn’t told they should have found out anyway,” said Arnold
The Georgia Access to Cannabis Commission never found out. Public records indicate that while David Brayton waited to testify about the bribery of a city official in 2018, he worked with Arizona’s Jigar Patel to run medical marijuana stores in Massachusetts.
According to the company, they worked together under the new company name Nature’s Medicines until 2019. Brayton testified during this year’s bribery trial that he “sold his shares in the company” because of the bribery case.
Brayton’s attorney said his client would “make no comment” and that, to the best of his knowledge, Brayton was “no longer part of Nature’s Medicines.”
Jigar Patel’s spokesperson wrote, “Questions about a previous Nature’s Medicines business partner are irrelevant to our Georgia proposal as the company severed ties with that person long before we filed our Georgia proposal.
The Georgia state medical marijuana filing only asks if a business owner has ever been arrested, prosecuted, or licensed, suspended, or fined for a “crime or misdemeanor”. Jigar Patel did not have to report or explain his business relationship with David Brayton.
“The citizens of Georgia should now demand answers, an explanation of how that happened,” Arnold said.
Natures GA is the second successful bidder the I-Team has examined in Georgia’s new medical marijuana industry.
Another successful applicant is Trulieve from Florida. The company’s CEO, Kim Rivers, is married to a man recently convicted of public corruption charges in Florida. During the trial, her husband, JT Burnette, testified that he was “actively involved in opening up” Trulieve with Rivers.
Charlie Arnold says none of this is good for public confidence in the application process. He says the real victims are the parents of children in dire need of medical marijuana.
“I couldn’t imagine being one of those parents and watching what was happening,” said Arnold.
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