A former United Food and Commercial Workers union official and Berkeley medical cannabis commissioner is facing federal criminal charges for allegedly using his positions to solicit bribes, among other charges.
Oakland resident Daniel Rush is accused of taking bribes in exchange for the UFCW's endorsement of prospective dispensary operators, taking kickbacks to steer clients to a co-conspiring attorney and using his position on the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Commission to extort a job from a potential dispensary operator. He's also charged with conspiracy and money laundering.
Two things jump out from Rush's indictment: California's medical marijuana industry involves tons of cash that can flow to unexpected places, and several people in the medical marijuana industry were willing to voluntarily cooperate with federal law enforcement despite a rocky past.
"The focus of this investigation hasn’t been so much on that industry," FBI San Francisco Division spokeswoman Michele Ernst told KQED on Friday. "It’s been on the corrupt activities and protecting the people who were victims of attempted extortion ... people who had ended up in a position where they were seeking help from the FBI and from law enforcement."
Rush held two powerful positions in the marijuana industry. As the executive director of UFCW International's medical cannabis division, he could steer which prospective dispensary operators competing for limited licenses would get an influential labor endorsement, and as a Berkeley commissioner, he helped steer which operators won licenses in that city.