Members of the cannabis industry are worried about the ramifications that may come from the recent arrest of Adelanto Mayor Pro Tem Jermaine Wright.
Wright was arrested Tuesday and faces charges for allegedly soliciting and accepted a bribe from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for using his political power to assist and protect a supposed commercial cannabis transportation business.
The 41-year-old Wright is also accused of asking an FBI informant to burn down his Fat Boyz Grill in order to collect insurance money, according to a sworn affidavit obtained by the Daily Press.
Several cannabis-related business owners in Adelanto were asked about the incident surrounding Wright, but did not return multiple messages left by the Daily Press.
However, several industry leaders in the High Desert who are familiar with Wright and Adelanto’s growing marijuana footprint shared their thoughts and concerns about Wright’s arrest and the future of the industry in the city.
Rehab Delivery owner Kasha Herrington, who is working toward opening a cannabis delivery business in Hesperia, told the Daily Press she was “flabbergasted” when Wright “abruptly changed his attitude” about the business of cannabis in Adelanto.
“I met with Jermaine about two years ago when I was trying to move forward with my business,” Herrington said. “He told me he would never allow any cannabis retail in Adelanto, but only grows that would be outsourced for research and development.”
Herrington said she saw “red flags” when Wright’s attitude went from “anti-cannabis to rezoning for certain people” that were interested in opening “recreational cannabis” based businesses.
“This is a sad day for cannabis and the industry is going to get the raw end of the deal because of this,” Herrington said. “This situation has nothing to do with cannabis and everything to do with someone who saw green and got caught up in greed.”
As for the cannabis industry in Adelanto, Herrington said the City Council should move forward “wisely” as it continues to reap the financial benefits of the burgeoning industry.
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“Adelanto should have done what Hesperia is doing now — taking baby steps and not rezoning at the drop of a hat,” Herrington said.
Lisa Johnson, owner of Kushman 420 Top Shelf, told the Daily Press she was “not surprised” by Wright’s arrest and wouldn’t be “surprised” by any future FBI activity in Adelanto.
“In my dealing with Adelanto I’ve seen a lot of shady things going on,” said Johnson, who is working to open a business in Hesperia. “That’s why I wasn’t shocked by the FBI’s actions.”
Johnson said the arrest of Wright puts “a major damper” on future activity between the City of Adelanto and cannabis business owners, with a “cloud of mistrust” hovering over city hall.
“There’s a scar on Adelanto that’s going to derail the city’s plan for being king of cannabis in California,” Johnson said. “It’s not going their way and it’s going to get real ugly.”
Rick Casas, a board member and compliance officer for the Medical Marijuana Educational Center, who is also working toward opening a delivery business in Hesperia, told the Daily Press that Wright’s arrest may be the harbinger of more FBI activity in the area.
Casas said any possible “side deals going on at city hall” will soon be exposed and the “domino effect will be devastatingly swift.” He also predicts Adelanto’s “Green Zone” may look different in six months due to more expected “fallout.”
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“Adelanto is going to feel the effect of this investigation and arrest for years to come,” Casas said. “The city has tried to eliminate the stigma of corruption on the dais for years — only to see this issue bubble up to the surface.”
He also added that any forward progress Adelanto has made “has been stymied,” with Casas saying, “If you don’t walk a straight line, at some point it will catch up with you.”
Frances Schauwecker, the owner of the education/cannabis-based Mary Jane University, said she was “disheartened” when she heard the news of Wright’s arrest.
“Just when the cannabis industry started gaining ground and respectability, we have this FBI arrest that has cast a dark shadow of controversy over it all,” said Schauwecker, who lives in Barstow. “I feel bad for the new patients and the people in the industry who are having to deal with this.”
Schauwecker said she doesn’t know the future of the cannabis industry in Adelanto, but did remark that the arrest furthers the stigma that surrounds “anything cannabis.”
“There are cannabis patients and lawful business owners that depend on medical marijuana,” Schauwecker said. “This arrest just put up more barriers and walls for the people that want to do things the right way.”
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