The FBI and a federal grand jury have been investigating former Michigan House speaker Rick Johnson (R) for more than two years for suspicion of taking bribes in return for awarding medical marijuana licenses, reports The Detroit News.
According to three sources familiar with the matter, who chose to remain anonymous, the investigation is covering nearly two years (from May 2017 through April 2019) of Johnson’s tenure as chairman of the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board. So, far Johnson has not been charged but court records - “United States of America vs Johnson, Rick V" obtained by the outlet confirm the federal investigation is underway. Johnson has not responded to questions for comment, the outlet added.
Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed Johnson to be chairman of the licensing board in May 2017 even though Johnson had previously been a marijuana lobbyist. The Snyder controversy started back then.
At that time, Brandon Dillon (then-chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party) called it. "It just smacks of corruption.”
The licensing board had the authority to choose which businesses could get into the cannabis space first, therefore, Johnson, as a chairman had influence over the board and its decisions.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stepped in and issued an executive order eliminating the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board in 2019, establishing a new state agency.
"This executive order will eliminate inefficiencies that have made it difficult to meet the needs of Michigan’s medical marijuana patients,” Whitmer said at the time.
Johnson was the House speaker from 2001 to 2004. Before joining the marijuana licensing board he worked as a lobbyist with Dodak Johnson in Lansing with former House Speaker Lewis Dodak.