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Former state medical marijuana board chair pleads guilty to bribery

Tingey Injury Law Firm

The former chair of the now defunct Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to taking bribes.

Rick Johnson chaired the board from May 2017 to April 2019. Before that, he was a lobbyist and served as Speaker of the House from 2001 through 2004.

During his time on the licensing board, court documents say he accepted over $100,000 in bribes and other gifts.

Johnson is one of four men taking a plea deal in connection with this case.

During a plea hearing Friday for another defendant, businessman John Dalaly, word came out Johnson’s wife allegedly may have been involved as well.

Johnson’s deal requires him to fully cooperate with federal investigators.

In return, the prosecution agreed to not pursue further charges against Johnson or his wife for her alleged part in the plot.

The deal does not outline a specific reduced sentence. Johnson is out on a $25,000 bond while he awaits a September sentencing hearing.

He could face up to ten years in prison.

Meanwhile, questions remain over the lasting effect the bribery scandal will have on Michigan’s marijuana industry.

The licensing board was disbanded in 2019. Currently, the Cannabis Regulatory Agency oversees marijuana in the state.

“As has been clearly seen in my first six months on the job, we don't take illegal activity lightly here at the CRA. We are currently reviewing the information that has been made available and will begin investigations as warranted. Michigan’s marijuana industry stakeholders can be assured that if we find that any businesses broke the law or rules, disciplinary action will be pursued,” CRA executive director Brian Hanna said in a written statement when asked for a comment.

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