Ohio paying convicted drug dealer up to $150k to score medical marijuana applications

In this June 28, 2017, photo, marijuana plants grow at the Desert Grown Farms cultivation facility in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — How would you like to make up to $150,000 for a year’s worth of work? All you need to do is have a working knowledge and expertise in the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Apparently, Trevor Bozeman fit that description perfectly, perhaps a little too perfectly. It appears Bozeman has been convicted on felony drug charges of manufacturing/possession/distributing and the intent to manufacture and distribute an illegal substance.

Bozeman’s consulting company ICANN LLC was one of four companies to throw their hat into the ring to land one of these lucrative contracts from the state.

Bozeman lists the mailing address of the company as 2262 Sonnington Dr. in Dublin on documents filed with the Secretary of State back in 2016. A later document from the Department of Commerce lists the address as 7652 Sawmill Rd. Suite 227 as the address.

In trying to track Bozeman down, I visited both of those addresses and found some interesting things.

First of all, Bozeman doesn’t live at 2262 Sonnington Dr., at least not anymore.

He did live there for a month over a year ago, according to the landlord of the property.

And that other business location turned out to be a UPS Store, with a bank of mailboxes. According to the store owner, Trevor Bozeman rents box 227.

Bozeman’s felony conviction came back in 2005 out of Snyder County, Pennsylvania.

He received three years of probation for the felony guilty plea.

The birthdate attached to those court papers matches the birthdate of a Trevor Bozeman who attended Arizona State University from 2008 to 2013, three years later.

While at ASU, Bozeman earned a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Chemistry, graduating in December 2013, according to school records.

But all of that schooling is not enough to offset the criminal conviction according to State Senator William Coley, II.

“We can secure the services of other people with those kinds of backgrounds that don’t have the criminal background on it,” said Coley. “I think the criminal background is a problem, especially since that we know that this entire program is going to receive very strict scrutiny from the federal government.”

Coley is a member of the state controlling board, the entity that controls how taxpayer money is spent.

The Department of Commerce had to come to the controlling board to get approval for Bozeman’s contract.

“When things come to controlling board, often times you assume those things have been vetted and people have done background checks and important things like that,” said Coley.

And that is the sticking point for at least one company that has recently been denied a license to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana.

CannAscend, along with two-thirds of the Level 1 applicants, were disqualified by the scorers of which Bozeman is one.

They scored a 132.7 for what it’s worth, the final two applicants to be disqualified scored somewhere around 142.

Jimmy Gould is the chairman and CEO of CannAscend. “I’m not accepting the score because I think the process was tainted and flawed,” said Gould.

He isn’t alone in his outrage. Ohio’s Lt. Governor Mary Taylor released this statement this afternoon:

I am deeply concerned about today’s news regarding the Ohio Department of Commerce’s process for awarding marijuana cultivator provisional licenses.  As a mother who has struggled with addiction in my own family, I am outraged that a convicted drug dealer played a major role in determining who was suitable to receive a license.  At a minimum, the integrity of the process has been called into question and it is unconscionable to imagine that this process would be allowed to continue until we have a full reckoning.  As Lt. Governor, I demand that we take a step back and freeze the awarding of the licenses until all of the facts have come to light.

The Department of Commerce did release a statement today, it reads:

All consulting companies met the standards provided within their contract. Obviously, we’re not surprised to learn that people who applied and didn’t get a license are disappointed. Any applicant who did not receive a license has the right to appeal the decision if they so choose.

With that in mind, CannAscend claims the contact information it was given for that appeals process connects them to a person that is currently on military leave and unavailable.

After receiving the statement from the Department of Commerce this morning, I reached out with follow up questions.

Did the Department of Commerce know Bozeman had a criminal record before they chose him as a contractor, and what do they plan to do with his contract now?

Tonight, those questions remain unanswered.

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