The topic of retail cannabis in the City of Santa Barbara has been radioactive since a Los Angeles magazine article raised the question of whether the city’s police spokesperson may have influenced the choice of one retailer — Golden State Greens. The Police Department released the results of an investigation today, which exonerated spokesperson Anthony Wagner of any conflict of interest in the choice of applicants for a cannabis license.
The article, printed in the magazine’s March issue, asserted Wagner had a connection with Adam Knopf, the principal for Golden State. The investigation, conducted by Robert Velasquez and Chuck Hookstra of Sintra Group, looked into “several areas of concern that were published in the article” and interviewed many people involved in the permit process.
Golden State did not initially win one of the three permits the city would issue but landed in fourth place. It got a permit when one of the three dropped out and subsequently sold it to JUSHI of Florida “at what many believe was a windfall profit” when it couldn’t get building permits within a year. The report states the transfer was allowed under the city’s municipal code.
“[I]t is our opinion that there was no conflict of interest between Anthony Wagner, Golden State Greens, or any of the other applicants that participated in the City of Santa Barbara process,” the investigators’ report concludes.
“I am extremely pleased,” Wagner said of the report’s finding, “clearing me and others of the unsubstantiated allegations published by LA magazine.” As far as any legal action he might be considering, Wagner would say only, “I am working with counsel to determine the next step.”