US (MI): Feds investigate ex-House Speaker Johnson for bribery in cannabis licensing

FBI agents and a federal grand jury have spent more than two years investigating whether former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson and others received bribes in return for awarding state licenses to operate medical cannabis facilities.

The probe has the potential to raise new questions about financial influences over Lansing, the state's ethics policies while the GOP controlled the Legislature, and how Michigan's burgeoning cannabis industry was shaped.

Three sources familiar with the probe described a prolonged, ongoing investigation involving Johnson's nearly two years of tenure as chairman of the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board. The sources declined to be identified because they weren't authorized to speak about the secret federal investigation.

Johnson, 70, who oversaw the board from May 2017 through April 2019, has not been charged with wrongdoing. The existence of the federal investigation was confirmed in court records obtained by The News that are marked "United States of America vs. Johnson, Rick V" and provide a partial roadmap of the probe since September 2020, describing search warrants, grand jury subpoenas targeting Johnson's bank records, and the seizure of Johnson's cell phone along with a computer from his wife, Janice.

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