Ex-Medical Marijuana Officials Charged for Illegal Shipment

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Prosecutors in Minnesota filed felony charges Monday against two former officials from one of the state’s licensed medical marijuana manufacturers for allegedly shipping marijuana oil to a subsidiary facility in New York.

Minnesota and New York have both legalized medical marijuana programs, and parent company Vireo Health cultivates and sells the medication in both states. But shipping products across state lines still violates both state and federal laws.

The complaint filed in Wright County Court alleges that two officials who no longer work for Minnesota Medical Solutions – the company’s Minnesota branch – collaborated in December 2015 to ship more than 5 kilograms of concentrated marijuana oil from Minnesota to New York, where the company faced a product shortfall ahead of New York’s January 2016 start to legal sales.

Laura Bultman, the former chief medical officer, and Ronald Owens, the former chief security officer, each face felony charges that carry fines of up to $3,000 and up to a year in jail. A third Minnesota Medical Solutions executive was named in the complaint but has not yet been charged.

Bultman’s attorney, Paul Engh, called the allegations unfounded. No attorney was listed for Owens in the charges. A spokesman for Vireo Health said the company has complied with the investigation and takes its legal obligations seriously.

It’s unclear when Bultman and Owens stopped working for Minnesota Medical Solutions. Engh said he couldn’t remember.

Legal medical marijuana sales began in Minnesota in July 2015. Both Minnesota and New York ban use of the plant form, restricting it to marijuana oils, pills and vapors.

The charges allege Bultman and Owens drove the marijuana oil – valued at $500,000 or more – to New York in an armored truck, then entered faulty information in the database that tracks shipments, suggesting the oil was taken to a waste facility to be destroyed. Investigators said they obtained text messages in which Bultman repeatedly referred to a specific kind of oil as “Christmas red.”

An early December 2015 email from a New York facility employee that was obtained by investigators read: “Laura is here today with Christmas presents from MN.”

The charges were first reported by Minnesota Public Radio News. Bultman and Owens are scheduled for their first court appearances later this month.

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