What’s Good LA, and Beard Bro Pharms community! Derek Shirley here back reporting from Maine! In today’s article we are going to be talking about a familiar term you might hear around the industry these days, conflict of interest.
I know you cool cats probably know what conflict of interest is but let’s define it real quick:
Conflict of Interest- occurs when an individual’s personal interests – family, friendships, financial, or social factors could compromise his or her judgment, decisions, or actions in the workplace.
Story time: So back in 2019 the State of Maine hired a firm: Freedman and Koski, Inc to write our (now terrible) adult use laws. According to the Portland Press Herald they would receive $189,000 for 6 weeks’ worth of work. Others have said the firm has actually been on longer than 6 weeks, FOAAs pending.
Now this is where the story varies based on who you ask or what information you’re inclined to believe. During my personal research, I found the name “John Hudak” listed as a co-founder to this Freedman and Koski consulting firm that has written recreational laws all over the country, see below for more information.
So now you have Larry, Moe, and Curly… I mean Andrew Freedman, Lewis Koski and John Hudak, and they all look like co-founders of this group.
Andrew Freedman later became the president of CPEAR which represents companies like Altria tobacco and Coors beverage in the cannabis industry in Washington DC.
Lewis Koski is now the CSO of Metrc, a cannabis seed to sale tracking system.
And John Hudak became the Office of Cannabis Policy Director in the State of Maine.
On August 23rd, 2023 the Office of Cannabis Policy held a Listening Session where you could ask them anything. I attended and asked John Hudak how long he worked for Freedman and Koski? He was adamant he was only consulting them from 2017-2022, never said anything about being a co-founder.
This is directly opposed to my personal research, where I’ve discovered at least 4 articles that put him as a co-founder. I have also talked to two other people that were at the same Listening Session that I was, and they agree to never hearing him say co-founder.
As if that wasn’t a big enough red flag, one of Director John Hudak’s first courses of action as director was to renew a Metrc contract which cost over $330,000 dollars for a “software buildout/upgrade”. If you remember from above, one of his old coworkers now works for Metrc as the CSO.
How is this not a conflict of interest at least by the simple Google definition above? Right now, the Director has the power to influence cannabis policy and our current director now gets to rewrite the laws that the firm he used to work for wrote back in 2019?? Like hello? Is this thing on?
Honestly regardless of what his position was at the firm like consultant or co-founder, it’s still pretty close to crossing the line into being a conflict of interest. If true that he is a co-founder along with Freedman and Koski, that puts him even closer to the conflict-of-interest circle. Especially with writing proposed rules for the state!
Rulemaking season always keeps me busy!! We need to defund the Office of Cannabis Policy and seek better alternatives.
About The Author
Derek Shirley was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of 19, he received a felony for 4 ounces of cannabis. After, he became a “cannabis nomad” living in Ohio, Arizona, and Maine, which he now calls home, and lives with his wife Sequoia and son Haze.
Being a cannabis nomad had its advantages, like relying on all markets for his medical cannabis needs which gives him a unique perspective of the cannabis markets. Currently, Derek operates People Not Parties Consulting, which helps local people and small businesses navigate their local and state governments without picking a political party specializing in protecting and preserving the small medical cannabis farmers of Maine. For fun, Derek enjoys screen printing and making cannabis memes under the pseudonym @gettinghighwithcats on IG.