Fulton County

Minn. official: Charges sought in medical pot probe

Vireo denies it is a target of probe
Vireo Health of New York harvested its first crop of medical cannabis plants in Johnstown, Nov. 12, 2015.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Vireo Health of New York harvested its first crop of medical cannabis plants in Johnstown, Nov. 12, 2015.

An assistant county attorney in Minnesota said his office is seeking criminal charges with that state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension related to allegations that Vireo Health violated federal law by transporting medical marijuana products between Minnesota and New York.

Vireo Health is based in Minnesota and manufactures cannabis oils for medicinal purposes. The company has a subsidiary, Vireo Health of New York, which operates a production facility in the Fulton County town of Perth. 

The charges are being sought by the county attorney’s office in Wright County, Minn., according to Brian Lutes, an assistant county attorney with Wright County. He said the complaint is not yet public because it’s pending review by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

“We have submitted our complaint to law enforcement and we’re waiting for a sign off from [the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension],” said Lutes. 

Lutes declined to expand on what’s contained in the complaint. He said the charges will likely be signed by a judge and officially filed on Monday. 

Lutes added that he anticipates the agency will sign off on the complaint.

“We based our complaint on reports generated by them,” he said of the BCA, which is a subsidiary of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and was created to prevent and solve crimes in partnership with law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, according to their website. 

While the use of medical marijuana has been cleared in 28 states and the District of Columbia, the drug remains illegal on the federal level, making it a crime to transport marijuana products across state lines. 

In a statement from June, Vireo Health said a BCA investigation was started in May based on accusations made by a disgruntled employee that the company had terminated. 

“These claims were the impetus for the state investigation, and we are confident the claims relied upon by regulatory authorities to begin the investigation will be found to be false,” Vireo said in their June statement. “To date, no one has informed us that any accusations made by the former employee have been validated.”

In that same statement the company said at the “root of the issues raised” is an inventory tracking system they use that’s designed for marijuana plant material and not extract. The statement claims the system, which the company is working to replace, sometimes creates inventory discrepancies because it is unable to indicate a destination for materials that are sent for testing or disposal. 

Contacted Friday, a Vireo Health spokesman said the company was told they’re not “a focus” of the investigation.

“While we are aware of an investigation by the Wright County attorney, we have no information as to its status except that we have been told our company is not a focus of the investigation,” said the spokesman in an email. “We will continue to assist the investigation in any way possible even while we work with our regulator in service to our patients who depend on us for assistance in fighting life-threatening and debilitating diseases.”

In addition to their Perth manufacturing plant, Vireo Health of New York operates four dispensaries in the state, including a dispensary in Colonie. 
 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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