Project CBD Article – Trulieve Tainted By GOP Sleaze?

Great piece by Project CBD .

Here’s the introduction

The sex scandal investigation of Florida’s far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz interlocks with a controversy concerning favoritism in handing out medical marijuana licenses in the Sunshine State.

And one of the key beneficiaries appears to be Trulieve — now the biggest operator in Florida and one of the leading cannabis companies in the United States.

Trulieve is currently winning headlines over its effort to acquire Harvest Health & Recreation, the largest cannabis operator in Arizona and also a major operator in Florida, in a stock deal valued at $2.1 billion.

As Forbes reports, the transaction, if approved by regulators, will create one of largest cannabis companies in the US, expanding Trulieve’s footprint to 126 dispensaries and 22 cultivation facilities across 11 states.

But coverage gushing over a cannabis business success story ignores the origins of Trulieve, which trace back to a nexus of prominent Florida Republicans, including names currently making stomach-churning national headlines. Chief among these are the Beshears brothers — one of whom is directly implicated in Gaetz’s alleged sex junket to the Bahamas.



Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers

A key turning point for Trulieve came in 2018 when it merged with a Toronto-based former mining company, Schyan Exploration. With this hefty capital infusion, it unambiguously joined the ranks of Big Bud.

Interestingly, 2018, Trulieve’s breakthrough year, was also the year of the key event in the Matt Gaetz scandal that has now become a national embarrassment for the Republican Party.


The interlocking connections between Gaetz, Beshears, and Pirozzolo extend beyond an apparent mutual penchant for lechery. Gaetz and Halsey Beshears served together in the Florida Legislature, and federal records reveal that Pirozzolo made two donations of $1,000 each to Gaetz’s campaign arm, “Friends of Matt Gaetz.” But as the Associated Press notes, they also had another mutual interest: Florida’s $1.2 billion medical marijuana industry.

In addition to all the other sleaze, investigators are said to be looking at Gaetz’s connections to the cannabis biz — including whether Pirozzolo and others sought to influence state legislation Gaetz sponsored.

It was Gaetz who ushered through the House version of the 2014 legislation that became Florida’s medical marijuana law. That law, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, initially only permitted low-THC varieties (such as the famous Charlotte’s Web). But it still unleashed a “green rush,” as investors and entrepreneurs raced to grab a share of the fledgling market.

That same law, however, strictly limited who could cash in on the rush. As recalled by an exhaustive story in the Orlando Sentinel (also run by the Tampa Bay Times and other Florida papers): “Less than 24 hours before the Florida Legislature passed the state’s first medical marijuana law in May 2014, Matt Gaetz and other members of the state House of Representatives rewrote the bill to limit who would be able to get in on the ground floor of what has since become a billion-dollar business.”

The revision set rigid vertically integrated standards for businesses, which could apply to become one of five “dispensing organizations.” The chosen few would be responsible for every step of the process from cultivation to processing to distribution to retail sales. Only state-licensed nurseries could apply — and only those that had been in operation for at least 30 years and had at least 400,000 plants.

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