A business hasn’t gone straight until you can use it to commit a white collar crime. When the marijuana businesses entered into various unions in California, it signaled an age of legitimacy for the formerly demonized industry. So, onlookers should look on this recent political corruption scandal involving marijuana as evidence that the weed business is practically wholesome. There’s corruption in pharmaceuticals, oil, elections, schools and law enforcement, so why not the ganja too?

According to a criminal complaint filed August 10 and reported on by the San Jose Mercury News, Dan Rush of the United Food and Commercial Workers union was charged with fraud and labor violations by the U.S. District Court. Rush is not only director of the UFCW’s marijuana division, he also co-founded the UCFW Local 5’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division and serves as a founding Board Member and Secretary of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR).

Some might say that a person such as Rush, who’s obviously in a position to advantage friends in the marijuana business as California marijuana regulations threaten to grow over the next several years, would be outside of his ethical bounds if he was to borrow over half a million dollars from a dispensary owner and then pay them back not through money, but through political favors.

The Rushter allegedly borrowed $600,000 from Oakland dispensary owner Martin Kaufman. When he couldn’t pay the loan back, he turned to workers’ compensation attorney Marc Terbeek to help him to jump Kaufman’s dispensary union hurdles.

“To be clear, Mr. Rush has been terminated. The UFCW holds all of its employees to the highest standards, and we expect that they perform their responsibilities with integrity and honor. What Mr. Rush has been accused of is not only shocking to us, it is a betrayal for what we at the UFCW stand for,” a UFCW spokesman wrote in a statement.

Kaufman, according to the Mercury News, has been living a bit of a double life. While owning the BLUM dispensary in Oakland, he has also been collaborating with the FBI for at least two years. Authorities told the Mercury that Kaufman recorded numerous conversations for the investigations and amusement of FBI investigations. It’s unclear at this time if more arrests will follow Rush’s.


Photo courtesy of SF Weekly