LA Times: Legal pot spawned a wave of corruption, threats and secret financial deals for politicians

Here’s the introduction….

In the San Gabriel Valley, a city councilman demanded bribes from businesses seeking cannabis licenses, according to a source cooperating with the FBI.

In another small L.A. County city, a cannabis industry group offered $15,000 to council candidates who would pledge to support changes to city regulations that weed businesses wanted — an exchange one legal expert said “flirted at the edges” of the law.

And in rural Northern California, an elected official pushed to expand the amount of weed that farms could legally grow, a proposal sought by a cannabis business that was paying her and her husband hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy their ranch.

California’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016 ushered in a multibillion dollar commercial pot market that officials in many small, struggling communities hoped would bring new jobs and an infusion of tax revenue to spend on police, parks and roads. But for some cities, the riches never materialized.

Instead, the advent of commercial cannabis unleashed a wave of corruption, prosecutions and accusations that has rocked local governments across the state and left them with few effective tools to combat the problem.

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