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What Kinds of Legal Issues is Trulieve Experiencing?

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Trulieve is the biggest marijuana dispensary in Florida's medical cannabis industry, and its no competition. They have the most dispensaries, accumulate the most revenue, and have arguably the biggest social media and marketing presence compared to their competitors in Florida, making them medical cannabis giants. They continue to open up shops around the sunshine state and currently have over 80 dispensaries. However, there have been a string of legal troubles the cannabis giants have endured in the last 6 weeks and it has created a shit storm of bad publicity for them. These legal issues stem from internal violations on the corporate level and it has created a dark cloud of controversy surrounding theft and corruption. Trulieve's CEO Kim Rivers' husband, JT Burnette (pictured above), admitted in a recording that he "tweaked" Florida legislation to his advantage, as well as Trulieve's. As the profits continue to roll, now do the problems and this latest story is capable of absolutely destroying the company's reputation among patients, investors, and critics alike.

JT Burnette deals in real estate and has many business ties to cities and commissioners. Burnette worked with then-Tallahassee commissioner Scott Maddox and both have been charged with extortion, fraud, and bribery. This was due to an undercover sting operation by the feds where Burnette admitted that along with Rivers and Maddox, they influenced the bill that Florida legislators created to legalize medical marijuana by adjusting the eligibility rules for obtaining a medical marijuana license. He also admitted that he and his wife Rivers didn't know anything about growing marijuana when applying and that politics heavily influenced their rise as industry giants. These legislative adjustments allowed Trulieve to be one of the first buyers and cultivators of marijuana in Florida and as they rose to being the leaders in total revenue, they did so by killing off development deals made by competitors.

The development deals are important because Burnette deals in real estate and is a co-owner of a construction company that Trulieve paid more than $100 million in the last 3 years. So, not only did the duo of Rivers and Burnette have legislative influence regarding the qualifications of a marijuana license in Florida, they also have the ability to work together in accruing hundreds of millions of dollars from a company that ONE OF THEM IS A CEO OF. Now, Burnette is on trial for federal bribery and a few other corruption charges. Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers has not been charged with any crimes and can be seen during the trials. Funny enough, this legal quagmire of corruption charges comes a few weeks after the state of Georgia awarded the first licenses to growers, one of them being Trulieve.

How is Trulieve responding to this madness? With absolute, 100% loyalty towards Rivers and the entire brand Trulieve has created. They refuse to speak publicly about the trials, appearing as though they have cut whatever ties there were with Burnette. These corruption charges likely won't affect their stream of revenue either as the last few years have indicated a continuance of dominance for the company. You will be seeing Trulieve in plazas and on billboards the same way you hear Drake or DJ Khaled's music when you turn on the radio. It's inevitable. Now, the consumers and investors have to make up their mind whether this changes their perspective on the company and if they're still willing to invest in a company with an already wobbly record. I've been to Trulieve, tried their flower and concentrates, but never really understood the hype. It's good medicine and they have a few hits like their 9lb Hammer, but CERTAINLY not the best compared to others. And I've heard a few rumors about their grow operations and how they are known to use harmful pesticides when growing flower, but these are just rumors and have zero credible sources to back it up (at least not any that I've found).

Outside the company's corruption charges, Trulieve has also experienced theft within their own retail workers. Sonya Hammerberg (pictured above) was caught earlier this year stealing marijuana from the company and selling it on the black market, which was most likely her friends. Though the amounts she stole only came out to a few grams, she was caught by the store's security guard who then tipped the police. She was arrested and charged with distribution of marijuana, which is a felony, and will most likely face jail time or probation, while having her medical card taken away.

In August, Trulieve was robbed of over 10k grams of marijuana by two of their store's employees in Midway, FL. Marquis Brown and Sammy Carter were caught on surveillance taking the flower, which was valued over $135,000, and intended to distribute it to both Gadsden and Leon County. They were arrested and charged for grand theft, and they will likely face harsh punishments for their crimes. Florida is surprisingly strict with federal marijuana laws despite it being legalized medicinally in the state and its because possession of marijuana is still a federal crime. Until it's wiped off the Schedule 1 Drug hierarchy and legalized federally, police in Florida, especially Northern Florida, are not going to play games with weed. Keep it in a stash box, try not to drive with it, and get a med card.

Trulieve is experiencing the good and the bad of being giants in any industry. Like Biggie said, "mo money mo problems" and it's especially true for them because now everyone is seeing exactly HOW they became so powerful, and it was through political corruption and essentially eliminating competition. Competition is good for patients and consumers since they'll have a wider variety of medicine. Trulieve is lame as fuck for that. A marijuana dispensary should only be a giant if they're medicine is actually better than competitors, and Trulieve's inventory is hysterically NOT better than their competition for them to have the money, stores, and publicity they do. But, the reality is that politics has already influenced medical marijuana in Florida and it will continue to and its likely why we see some dispensaries thrive and others not so much. So, again, it is up to the consumers to decide which dispensary truly deserves their hard earned money and they can do this by separating the the true geniuses in the cannabis industry and the phony corporate lobbyists who are only in the industry for profit, and not necessarily your wellness.


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