Pay a fine now or risk losing your cannabis license.
That’s the dilemma Oklahoma cannabis business recently faced when robbers masquerading as state regulators showed up at operations in Hughes and Seminole counties earlier this week.
Specifically, on March 13 at a Hughes County cultivation business, a group of six imposters arrived with one person claiming to be a state regulator with the “Oklahoma Marijuana Board,” which does not exist. That person demanded on-site payments for a code violation while others in the group posed as law enforcement agents, The Oklahoman reported.
The criminal party had a counterfeit search warrant on hand, donned fabricated badges and patches, and stole cell phones and medical cannabis from the property, the newspaper reported.
Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, told the news outlet it’s not the first time an illegal raid involving regulator and law enforcement imposters has occurred.
“In the past they’ve showed up at either a grow or a dispensary and claimed to be with the state of Oklahoma, saying there were violations and demanded money on-site to pay the fine for the violation or be shut down,” said Woodward, who confirmed his agency wasn’t conducting any operation in the south central counties where businesses reported the cases.
Adria Berry, director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), addressed the illegal raids during a press conference March 15, and the regulatory agency released a statement the following day:
“Attention OMMA-licensed businesses: If you are suspicious of a person or group at your facility claiming to be OMMA investigators, please contact local law enforcement to alert them. We recommend asking the officers for identification.
“If they are OMMA agents, they will be armed, and will be able to produce a badge and commission card that includes their photo, title, the OMMA emblem and OSDH logo. Typically, agents will be wearing a black polo with an OMMA enforcement emblem, as well.”
However, OMMA agents and other state officials do not demand fines be paid on-site or at gunpoint on a business property.
District Attorney Paul Smith is leading an ongoing investigation into the recent incidents. According to The Oklahoman, one person has been taken into custody so far.