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Marijuana licensing woes dog Missouri’s governor

After Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana in November 2018, the state’s new Republican governor, Mike Parson, moved quickly to certify tens of thousands of patients and begin licensing cannabis businesses.

But what seemed at first to be an easy source of voter satisfaction and a new cache of revenue to the state has boomeranged badly: A flood of complaints led to state and federal corruption probes that now threaten Parson’s 2020 campaign.

The governor’s close personal friend and fundraiser, Steve Tilley, is at the center of the probes. He represented lucrative clients who appeared to receive a boost in the licensing process. The campaign of Parson’s presumptive Democratic opponent, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, put out a taunting memo declaring, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

The situation reflects how quickly the promise of legalized marijuana can turn from being an asset for political leaders to a liability, as administrations come under intense lobbying and pressure to hand out lucrative licenses, while confronting the risk of outright corruption.

In the wake of the investigations, the race has become increasingly competitive, according to polls and rating services. [Read more at Politico]

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