Ohio paying convicted drug dealer to score medical pot applications

COLUMBUS (WYTV) – How would you like to make $150,000 for a year’s worth of work? All you need to do is have a working knowledge and expertise in the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Apparently Trevor Bozeman fit that description perfectly — perhaps a little too perfectly. It appears Bozeman has been convicted on felony drug charges of manufacturing, possessing, and distributing, along with the intent to manufacture and distribute, an illegal substance.

Bozeman’s consulting company, ICANN LLC, was one of four companies to throw its hat into the ring to land one of these lucrative contracts from the state.

He lists ICANN’s mailing address as 2262 Sonnington Dr. in Dublin on documents filed in 2016 with the Secretary of State. A later document from the Department of Commerce lists the address as 7652 Sawmill Rd. Suite 227.

In trying to track Bozeman down, I visited both of those addresses and found some interesting things.

First of all, Bozeman doesn’t live at 2262 Sonnington Dr. — at least not anymore. He did live there for a month over a year ago, according to the landlord of the property.

That other business location turned out to be a UPS Store with a bank of mailboxes. According to the store owner, Bozeman rents box 227.

His felony conviction came in 2005 out of Snyder County, Pennsylvania. Bozeman received three years of probation for the guilty plea.

The birthdate attached to those court papers matches the birthdate of a Trevor Bozeman who attended Arizona State University from 2008 to 2013, three years later. While at ASU, Bozeman earned a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Chemistry and graduated in December of 2013, according to school records.

But all of that schooling is not enough to offset the criminal conviction, according to State Senator William Coley II.

“We can secure the services of other people with those kinds of backgrounds that don’t have the criminal background on it,” Coley said. “I think the criminal background is a problem, especially since that we know that this entire program is going to receive very strict scrutiny from the federal government.”

Coley is a member of the state controlling board, the entity that controls how taxpayer money is spent.

The Department of Commerce had to come to the controlling board to get approval for Bozeman’s contract.

“When things come to controlling board, oftentimes you assume those things have been vetted, and people have done background checks, and important things like that,” Coley said.

That is the sticking point for at least one company that has recently been denied a license to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana.

Bozeman is one of the scorers who disqualified CannAscend, along with two-thirds of the Level 1 applicants. They scored a 132.7 for what it’s worth. To be disqualified, the final two applicants scored somewhere around 142.

“I’m not accepting the score because I think the process was tainted and flawed,” said CannAscend Chairman and CEO Jimmy Gould.

He isn’t alone in his outrage. Ohio’s Lt. Governor Mary Taylor released this statement Tuesday afternoon:

I am deeply concerned about today’s news regarding the Ohio Department of Commerce’s process for awarding marijuana cultivator provisional licenses. As a mother who has struggled with addiction in my own family, I am outraged that a convicted drug dealer played a major role in determining who was suitable to receive a license. At a minimum, the integrity of the process has been called into question and it is unconscionable to imagine that this process would be allowed to continue until we have a full reckoning. As Lt. Governor, I demand that we take a step back and freeze the awarding of the licenses until all of the facts have come to light.”

The Department of Commerce released a statement Tuesday as well, reading:

All consulting companies met the standards provided within their contract. Obviously, we’re not surprised to learn that people who applied and didn’t get a license are disappointed. Any applicant who did not receive a license has the right to appeal the decision if they so choose.”

With that in mind, CannAscend claims the contact information it was given for that appeals process connects them to a person that is currently on military leave and unavailable.

After receiving the statement from the Department of Commerce Tuesday morning, I reached out with follow-up questions.

Did the Department of Commerce know Bozeman had a criminal record before they chose him as a contractor? What do they plan to do with his contract now?

Those questions remain unanswered.