By Shariq Khan (Reuters) - Canada will launch a public consultation on Monday seeking to tighten rules for individuals who are allowed to grow their own medical cannabis, in an effort to clamp down on pot seeping into black markets, a document reviewed by Reuters showed. In the draft document, Health Canada highlights recent police raids and arrests at production sites where people were using licenses to "cover and support large-scale illegal production and sale". The move comes as Canada tries to fix its ailing pot market, where illegal producers sell more annually than hundreds of licensed c...
Oklahoma's attorney general has secured a refund for the state's stockpile of hydroxychloroquine.
The state's health department purchased the medication, which was touted by then-president Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19, at the start of the pandemic, and Oklahoma was left with 1.2 million unused doses after the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization, reported KFOR-TV.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Friday that he has reached an agreement with FFF Enterprises, a pharmaceutical wholesaler based in California, to return the state's stockpile of the drug for a full refund of the $2.6 million purchase price paid last year.
Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat malaria, and the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization after serious side effects were detected and it proved to be ineffective against the coronavirus.
The top political consultant to Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was arrested Thursday on allegations that he participated in a scheme to solicit money and campaign contributions for state hemp licenses issued by Miller's Texas Department of Agriculture.
The consultant, Todd Smith, ultimately took $55,000 as part of the scheme, an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by The Texas Tribune says. Smith and others involved in the scheme are alleged in the warrant to have solicited a total of $150,000 to guarantee a license, including a $25,000 upfront cost for a survey that they said was required to get a license in Texas. Some of the money would also go toward funding unnamed political campaigns, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit alleges that Smith committed third-degree felony theft.
"Todd Smith created by words and his conduct, a false impression of fact that affected the judgment of others in the transactions to obtain a hemp license and/or conduct a survey that was never attempted by Todd Smith," the affidavit says.
The allegations were investigated by the Texas Rangers' Public Integrity Unit, which is responsible for looking into claims of public corruption.
Smith was arrested Thursday and booked into Travis County jail at 9:23 p.m., according to Kristen Dark, a spokesperson for the county sheriff's office. Smith was released at 2:59 a.m. Friday on a personal recognizance bond. Bail was set at $10,000.
Smith did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Friday morning.
The affidavit says Smith used another person as a middle man between himself and those interested in getting licenses. The affidavit does not provide much information about the middle man other than that he was "introduced to Todd Smith by a friend in August 2019."
The affidavit includes the account of one man who wanted to get involved in the hemp industry and met the middle man at a social gathering in August 2019. The affidavit says the middle man told the license-seeker that he was "working directly with senior leadership at the TDA" and that he "needed $150,000.00 in cash, with some of the money going toward campaign contributions, in order to receive the 'guaranteed' hemp license."
The license-seeking man agreed to the deal, setting off a chain of events that included a November 2019 visit to Austin where he handed the middle man $30,000 cash in a car outside El Mercado, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Austin near the TDA offices, according to the affidavit. Williams went through an alley to take the money to the TDA headquarters before returning to the car and collecting Vinson for a scheduled meeting at the offices.
The affidavit says the license-seeker learned later that month that he was not guaranteed a license, despite the scheme that had been proposed to him. He reached Smith via phone, who "denied any knowledge but did admit to receiving a $5,000.00 gift from" the middle man, according to the allegations.
The hemp licenses were opened as a result of House Bill 1325, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law in 2019 and allowed the state's farmers to legally grow industrial hemp. Hemp is a cousin of the marijuana plant that contains low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive element in marijuana known as THC.
Smith has previously been under scrutiny for blurring campaign and official lines. The Austin American-Statesman reported in 2018 that Smith told a San Antonio businessman he could get a TDA appointment if he donated to Miller's campaign — then Smith asked the businessman for a $29,000 personal loan.
Years earlier, Miller created four new assistant commissioner positions and gave one of them to Smith's wife, Kellie Housewright-Smith. The positions had annual salaries exceeding $180,000, making them among the highest-paid employees at the TDA.
Questions raised over FEC’s ‘inexplicable’ decision to give Trump a pass on Stormy Daniels hush money scandal
People hoping for criminal justice reckoning for Donald Trump got some bad news recently after the Federal Election Commission gave the former president a pass regarding his alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake points out, the FEC ruled that it will not move forward with an investigation into Trump alleged role in the payoff. According to Blake, the decision is both "unsurprising and rather inexplicable."
"It's unsurprising because this is par for the course for the FEC," Blake writes. "The bipartisan agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance law has been mired in a state of gridlock for many years, with its key enforcement decisions regularly breaking down along party lines and sometimes without enough members to even function. The decision that was disclosed Thursday pitted two Democrats in favor of moving forward against two Republicans voting against it."
Blake writes that it's been proven that Trump committed a crime.
"The key issues when it came to Trump's culpability were whether he was involved in the payments and whether they were intended to influence the election being held shortly thereafter. [Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen] said publicly in 2018 that both things were true and later testified under oath to the same effect," writes Blake, adding that while Cohen's history made him not the best witness, Trump's own Justice Department also implicated him in the crime.
Read the full analysis over at The Washington Post.
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