An eight-minute audio recording that appeared on social media earlier this month has led to an Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office investigation and the ouster of the entire board of directors and senior-level managers at a large, Anchorage-based marijuana retailer. reports Anchorage Daily News
In the recording, Jordan Huss, formerly the vice president of Great Northern Cannabis and the company’s top shareholder, acknowledges switching out samples so that 100 pounds of marijuana would be able to be sold without undergoing the required testing for mold.
Huss said management in the company was adamant that marijuana still be sold, although the former CEO and the former vice president of the company dispute that claim.
“I was instructed to use different samples so that we would ensure that that cannabis batch would test clean,” Huss said on the recording. “I did that under orders by my management.
“That hundred pounds of cannabis sold.”
In an interview last week, Huss confirmed it’s him in the recording and also said he switched out the samples. He said he does not know how his conversation with another Great Northern employee was recorded, or how the recording found its way online.
On May 11, the shareholders voted in a new board. That night, they appointed a new CEO and hired a private security firm led by a former Anchorage Police Department officer to investigate the claims made on the recording.
The new board voted to terminate Huss. When told of that decision two days later, Huss responded that it would be an amicable departure, said Andrew Halcro, who was voted in as the board’s chairman.
“It’s really sad,” Huss said. “GNC started as a local company with local entrepreneurs that were really interested in building a brand and company that was representative of the great state of Alaska.”
Glen Klinkhart, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, confirmed there is an active investigation into the alleged actions at Great Northern Cannabis. The investigation is a priority, Klinkhart said.
After looking into the matter on recommendation of Assemblyman Chris Constant, city code enforcement determined there was insufficient evidence to open a formal investigation.
“We will be completely liable, and accept that punishment, whatever it is,” Halcro said. “If the company goes under, it goes under.”
Both the city and state can fine a marijuana company or revoke its license. Constant said he would be surprised if Great Northern lost its license over this. There is insufficient evidence to prove what’s stated on the recording, Constant said.
Great Northern has two licenses transfers up for approval before the Assembly on Tuesday, one for a cultivation facility and one for a manufacturing facility.
The recording is of a conversation between Huss and a woman who asks him about switching the samples. In early May, it was posted to Facebook. That post was deleted, and shortly after that, the recording was uploaded to YouTube.
In an interview, Huss said he does not know how the recording was made or distributed. He said he believes the conversation was illegally recorded, and he is planning to pursue legal recourse.
During the eight-minute recording, Huss lays out how he switched out samples. He says he did so at the direction of Great Northern Cannabis’ then-CEO Steve Brashear and Eric Logan, the former vice president of strategic development. Both are no longer with the company.
“The reason why it had been stockpiled is some of that cannabis had tested positive for mold,” Huss said on the recording. “Eric was adamant, absolutely adamant, that that cannabis be sold.”
Logan, who is represented in his individual capacity by attorney Jeffrey Robinson, emphatically denied all allegations.
Brashear also denied the allegations.
“I did not authorize, direct or condone the actions described in the recording, and I look forward to the facts coming out in a formal investigation,” Brashear said. He declined to comment further. Brashear said he resigned prior to the recording being released.
In an April 17 email Brashear supplied to the Daily News, he said he was resigning from Great Northern “due to personal reasons, health concerns, and the board’s preference.”
Brashear and Huss are the company’s two largest shareholders, and retain their shares after leaving the company.