The Federal Bureau of Investigation has announced it’s looking into the problem of public corruption in the cannabis industry, particularly kickbacks and under the table bribes for issuing licenses.

In a somewhat radical use of the podcast medium, the FBI has released a 72-second episode about “the public corruption threat [emerging] in the expanding cannabis industry.”

The FBI isn’t exactly Marc Maron in its mastery of podcasting, but at least their information is good, right? Well, maybe.

In the episode, Supervisory Special Agent Regino Chavez claims that the bureau has seen “in some states the price go as high as $500,000 for a license to sell marijuana.”

The assertion was laughed off by some in the business.

“Apparently, the FBI is re-creating fables about our industry,” Steve Schain, a senior attorney at Hoban Law Group in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, told Marijuana Business Daily.

“Unless you’ve been in the industry for only 15 seconds, you may be ignorant to the fact that a license is not a guarantee of printing money.”

The figures may be off, but that doesn’t mean there’s no public corruption to be found in cannabis. California has seen a rash of public corruption allegations at the municipal level, including scandals in San Francisco and Huntington Park.

Meanwhile, Michigan has had its own cannabis corruption problems, with three would-be cannabis businesspeople being indicted for an attempt to bribe Detroit city councilors with $15,000.

Ultimately, charges of public corruption just mean that cannabis has joined the club of any number of other “legitimate” businesses like construction or alcohol.

“My take is that, where there’s money and limited licensing, there’s corruption,” said Donna More, a partner in Fox Rothschild’s Chicago law office. “Like any other industry, honestly.”

Photo via Flickr user Mike Kalasnik

Natalie