UPDATE 2/4/21: All of the Garib Karapetyan’s licenses are currently in good standing and have been approved by the City of Sacramento and the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. Andrey Kukushkin is no longer listed on any business or cannabis licenses held by Karapetyan, who has never been suspected of any involvement in any alleged crimes committed by Kukushkin.
The four men indicted for campaign finance violations in Nevada include two associates of Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine-born Andrey Kukushkin, an officer in a Sacramento dispensary owned by the city’s “de facto pot king,” Garib Karapetyan. Karapetyan controls eight Sacramento dispensaries, far more than anyone else in the city.
The Sacramento Bee also reports that months before the October indictment, the FBI had been investigating whether local cannabis business have bribed public officials for favorable treatment. No connection between the Sacramento investigation and the Nevada indictment has been established.
- The indictment involves an alleged scheme to use dispensaries to funnel campaign donations to Republicans.
- The two Giuliani associates also sought to invest in Florida cannabis licenses.
- Sacramento’s mayor has called for an investigation into how Karapetyan accumulated so many licenses, perhaps against the spirit of city laws.
Following the indictment as well as concerns over testing standards and a departed regulator accused of getting too cozy with license applicants, Nevada is cracking down on the industry. A new task force performed surprise inspections at testing labs this week and the state announced an indefinite freeze on the sale and transfer of business licenses.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
The federal indictment says the four men “took steps to hide” the identity of an investor in their Nevada cannabis business. Last week, I had a scoop which raises questions about similar practices in Colorado. Colorado authorities have repeatedly refused to discuss the issue and are on track to loosen cannabis investing rules in November.