Legalizing cannabis has had countless positive effects on the communities in which it’s sold. Thousands of people with illnesses now have access to a safer way to medicate themselves. The amount of money from taxes that has been collected is staggering already. Not to mention the drastically reduced crime rates that have been seen in some areas now that people aren’t being arrested for enjoying a puff once in awhile. Unfortunately there seems to be plenty of room in the system still for those people that don’t want to abide by the new laws. Colorado has developed a noticeable trafficking problem and neighboring states aren’t happy about it. While there have definitely been problems that have arisen from dispensaries and growers doing illegal sales on the black market, this particular story is about Uncle Sam getting too greedy with the cannabis market. A former IRS agent has just been sentenced after being found guilty for bribing a dispensary last year in Seattle.
Paul Hurley audited the dispensary Have A Heart Compassion Care in Seattle last year, but his intentions were clearly self serving. After Paul finished auditing the dispensary he informed the owner that he had saved him a million dollars and requested a bribe to keep it that way. The owner of the dispensary, Ryan Kunkel, complied to paying him $20,000. Despite agreeing to pay the bribe, the owner immediately went to the authorities after the audit to report Hurley. The IRS agent wasn’t arrested immediately, but was later arrested in September as part of a sting operation against him. Lots of people have been waiting to see the results of this case. So many times we’ve seen the government enforce ridiculously unjust sentences for cannabis crimes, but how are they going to treat one of their own? Well we got that answer last Friday when the sentencing was delivered. The IRS agent was convicted of the crime back in February, but was just sentenced to 2 ½ years of prison.
This story is really about the character of some members of the cannabis industry compared to the members of our government. This dispensary owner could have easily looked the other way, especially if it was really saving him money, but instead he did the right thing and reported it to the authorities. It is very important to our industry that people continue to stand up against being bullied by the IRS or DEA and also important that we prove to the world that we’re not the criminals in these situations or in any situation.