US mar­i­juana reg­u­la­tors are show­ing their dark side

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

TAKE a black-mar­ket busi­ness that re­lies on cash. Move the busi­ness out of the shad­ows by giv­ing it gov­ern­ment over­sight. Hire new reg­u­la­tors to keep watch on the busi­ness, all with­out any ex­pe­ri­ence reg­u­lat­ing a brand-new in­dus­try.

The re­sult can be a recipe for gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion.

Re­cent cases in Colorado and Wash­ing­ton are the first known in­stances of cur­rent or for­mer pot reg­u­la­tors be­ing ac­cused of hav­ing im­proper deal­ings with the in­dus­try. The two recre­ational mar­i­juana states are the na­tion’s old­est, ap­prov­ing le­gal weed in de­fi­ance of fed­eral law in 2012.

A pair of cases sev­eral years into the le­gal-weed ex­per­i­ment might not seem like much, but they give a black eye to all mar­i­juana reg­u­la­tors and fuel old fears about the crim­i­nal el­e­ment’s in­flu­ence.

In a case that has caught the US Jus­tice De­part­ment’s at­ten­tion, for­mer Colorado mar­i­juana en­force­ment of­fi­cer Re­nee Ray­ton is ac­cused of help­ing pot grow­ers raise plants for il­le­gal out-of-state sales.

State in­ves­ti­ga­tors say the mar­i­juana ware­house in­spec­tor quit her job last year and im­me­di­ately went to work for the il­le­gal pot ring, tak­ing an $8 000-a-month job.

A June 7 in­dict­ment says Ray­ton told the pot grow­ers she could help them “get le­gal” through her con­tacts. – AP

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