Chicago Cannabis Firm Accused of Drug Trafficking in RICO Case

A cannabis lawsuit has made it all the way to federal proceedings this month, as Verano Holdings, based in Chicago, is being accused of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act by trafficking cannabis. 

The charges are based on the fact that Verano Holdings are being accused of smuggling cannabis from Illinois to Arkansas as part of their business plan. The lawsuit claims that Verano planned to open up a dispensary in Arkansas along with Harvest Health of Arizona and Natural State Wellness Enterprises in Arkansas. A former employee of Harvest Health, Nicholas Nielsen, is claiming that he was told to go to Illinois to get cannabis clippings that would help start the new business.

“In June 2019, [the manager] went to the Verano facility in Illinois, inartfully took clippings from the Verano marijuana, and secreted them in Whole Foods salad,” the lawsuit claims. “[H]e then took the marijuana-laced salads with him on a commercial flight from Chicago to Memphis, Tennessee, where he rented a car and drove the Verano marijuana to [Nielsen] in Arkansas.”

“Defendants faced a problem: They could now grow cannabis, but how would they obtain the cannabis in the new state to grow it?”

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