Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article title=
Anthony Wagner (Photo: The Independent)
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.

By Nick Welsh, The Independent

Santa Barbara’s Interim Police Chief Bernard Melekian announced he’s contracted with a firm that specializes in investigating public safety agencies to look into conflict-of-interest allegations in an article published by Los Angeles magazine against Anthony Wagner, the department’s public information officer and community relations advisor. 

The article alleged that Wagner had been a business partner with one of the principals of a San Diego–based cannabis dispensary company, Golden State Greens, that sought and received one of the three cannabis dispensary permits issued by the City of Santa Barbara two years ago. Wagner was one of five high-ranking city employees charged with evaluating the applications submitted by individuals and companies competing for the coveted permits. 

The article, written by freelance reporter, former screenwriter, and until recently Santa Barbara resident Mitchell Kriegman, alleged that cannabis entrepreneur Micah Anderson had been a principal with Golden State Greens when it successfully sought the city’s permit. Anderson had been business partners with Wagner when the two lived in San Diego and operated a consulting firm together specializing in cannabis permitting. Wagner moved to Santa Barbara in 2017 at the instigation of former Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow, who hired him to be her right-hand man on issues relating to cannabis and alcohol regulations as well as her spokesperson and general advisor.

The article, it turned out, was factually incorrect and the conflict-of-interest it alleged did not exist. Anderson, records show, was not involved with Golden State Greens and its efforts to secure a dispensary in Santa Barbara. Los Angeles magazine has since issued a retraction, which reads: “A prior version of this story incorrectly identified Micah Anderson as one of the owners that applied for a cannabis dispensary license for Golden State Greens in Santa Barbara. The information we have been provided since the article was published shows that Mr. Anderson was neither an owner of Golden State Greens nor involved in the application process in Santa Barbara. We apologize for any confusion.”

Melekian explained that he is still proceeding with the investigation out of an abundance of caution sparked by the article. “We’re doing our due diligence here,” he said, explaining that Sintra Professional Investigations would explore any relationships that might exist between Wagner and any of the principals of Golden State Greens. Wagner has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. 

Sintra was started in 2002 by Steve Bowman, a retired assistant chief with the Ventura Police Department. Melekian said that the background check will cost no more than $7,500 and the results should be final within a few weeks. 

The allegations in Kriegman’s article qualified as a major news bombshell when the story initially broke. Wagner has issued a detailed demand for a retraction, far more sweeping than the one already issued. Santa Barbara City Administrator Paul Casey, City Attorney Ariel Calonne, and Interim Police Chief Melekian have released a detailed list of other errors they claimed the article contained. 

Although Golden State Greens managed to secure one of the three permits issued by the City of Santa Barbara for a location by State Street and Ontare Road — and obtained all the necessary building permits — it never opened the proposed dispensary. Instead it sold a portion of its shares ― for an undisclosed amount said to be worth many millions ― to a cannabis company named Jushi from Boca Raton, Florida, which opened its doors several months ago and is currently operating.


 March 14, 2021: Investigative Journalist Hints at Santa Barbara City Corruption

 March 15, 2021: Deciphering the Bombshell LA Magazine Piece that Just Hit City Hall

 March 15, 2021: Santa Barbara City Employee Placed on Administrative Leave Following Article

 March 17, 2021: Lots of Innuendo but Little Substance in Los Angeles Magazine Article

 March 18, 2021: Santa Barbara Officials Respond to Claims in LA Magazine Article

 March 22, 2021: Santa Barbara Police Department Hires Firm to Investigate Employee

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Joshkq621 Mar 24, 2021 11:31 AM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article


I agree, that bias that exists in our small market reporting is alarming in my opinion.

Which is why as a resident I took the time to research and present the facts for our residents to read and judge for themselves!

a-1616630518 Mar 24, 2021 05:01 PM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

It is not a sign of incompetence to issue a retraction to a single portion of an article, rather a sign of allegiance to truthful reporting. That is a GOOD THING. I wish more news orgs would correct themselves when they find mistakes. It is an important part of journalism. We should celebrate people correcting their mistakes, not make nasty comments.

cwazny Mar 25, 2021 07:02 AM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

Well...The problem is, more often than not, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. Once people get the first version, many grab onto it, accurate or not. It is a sign of incompetence when you don't do your do diligence to thoroughly check your facts before publishing a potentially damaging article. It's like putting out a story asserting that someone is a child molester, and later retracting it. Most will have the child molester thing already stuck in their head.

x01660 Mar 24, 2021 11:11 AM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

So why was this article written in the first place? As some have suggested, it was a political hit piece. Coming out right around election time...

Follow the money, in this case of Mitchell Kriegman. Interesting that he left for overseas (in a pandemic, mind you) right before the article was published.

Correlation does not imply causation, but I'd be interested to see what can be dug up on Mr. Kriegman...

Joshkq621 Mar 24, 2021 11:22 AM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

Click the “more news” button and read the Op-Ed for independent journalism not the propaganda put it by the “Not So Independent”/ City Hall.

Did Tyler Hayden write this? Because Propagandist Nick Welsh published the same piece on the “Not So Independent’s” site too...

Basicinfo805 Mar 24, 2021 01:04 PM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

Mr. Mitchell Kriegmann you, and the LA Magazine - look like absolute fools. Who knows what the motivation was for this whole bunch of bs. However, there's a reason why many educated citizens have opposed marijuana legalization. What are we gaining from this experiment? Money is just going to get sucked down the municipal black hole. If you thought the marijuana dollars were going right into making infrastructure and schools better, well, you got suckered.

a-1616627320 Mar 24, 2021 04:08 PM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

No smoke, no fire. The Los Angeles Magazine article has no duck, no quack, no swimming, nothing except a city employee that got into a verbal altercation with George the barber at a 7-11. Cut to the worlds tiniest violin. It looks like the LA Mag office got a letter from someone's lawyer. Meanwhile the highly acclaimed animation kids show writer that broke this hard hitting fairy tale errrr story is hiding out in Portugal.

a-1616630917 Mar 24, 2021 05:08 PM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

The main theme of the article was the alleged conflict of interest in the pot shop selection. process, other than that they have a verbal dustup at a 7-11 and the usual braying about high government salaries. This retraction takes all credibility away the conflict of interest scandal Nothing burger.

a-1616633652 Mar 24, 2021 05:54 PM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

Yes the pot shop permits are new to the City of Santa Barbara and they have always been transferrable. Dave was posting that Casey made a change to the policy as a favor to one of the permit holders. Get your act together Duke. You are embarrassing yourself.

Crystalandmaui Mar 25, 2021 08:19 AM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

This is all CORRUPTION, the USA,
Is the same as all the corrupt countries.
Where are all the Good people standing up for what’s right. Money is the head of all evil. Now we have to pay for the corruption. The drugs have got to go.
The future looks Grimm unless your a drug dealer or the best liar.
All the politicians are liars and the best liar wins. Only the working class people who their taxes pay for all this nonsense . Wow what next?????

Rinconer Mar 26, 2021 08:49 AM
Los Angeles Magazine Issues Retraction for Cannabis Corruption Article

Unless someone has a time travel machine,
the fact remains that many qualified locals were screwed over during the dispensary selection process due to favoritism and a $10 million payoff from Floridians.
Santa Barbara’s bureaucracy clearly prefers Floridians with eight figure payoffs to qualified locals. Why not use your legislative powers to benefit taxpayers in our County before you sell us out to your rich millionaire pals in Florida?

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