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California Councilwoman Accused of Profiting from the Cannabis Industry

Aide Castro at a Lynwood City Council meeting in February. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Few local politicians have championed marijuana as loudly as Aide Castro.

She says the drug was crucial to treating a thyroid condition. And as a Lynwood city councilwoman, she was the driving force behind the city’s decision more than two years ago to become one of the first in Los Angeles County to embrace the newly legalized industry.

But while she was helping approve the city’s cannabis regulations, Castro was also quietly making money from the industry, a Times investigation found.

Castro didn’t report any of her dealings in the marijuana business on state-required financial forms until earlier this year, when she disclosed that she is a partner in two marijuana cultivation ventures. She reported that her ownership stakes are worth millions of dollars. Both the businesses are located outside the city, but one of her partners is embroiled in a legal dispute in part over ownership of a marijuana manufacturing license in Lynwood.

In February, Castro announced the formation of Candor Collections, a marijuana partnership that markets cannabis to women.

In recent years, she has also run her own consulting firm that does work for cannabis businesses, including Weedmaps, one of the nation’s most popular pot advertising platforms. She has never listed Weedmaps or any other clients on her state financial reports.

State law requires elected officials to report the identities of clients who pay their companies at least $10,000 in a year for consulting work if those clients were doing business — or were planning to do business — within the official’s jurisdiction.

In an interview, Castro told The Times none of her consulting clients met the $10,000 annual reporting threshold. But a Weedmaps spokesman later said the firm paid Castro $93,666 in 2017 — just as she and the council were changing local regulations to allow marijuana delivery by businesses in the city, as well as crafting and passing licensing agreements with local growers. Two delivery services in Lynwood now advertise on Weedmaps.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Adam Elmahrek on Los Angeles Times

Published: April 26, 2019

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