San Diego Marijuana Industry Stunned by Bizarre Murder-for-Hire Plot

San Diego’s marijuana industry has been rattled by recent revelations that a leading area investor allegedly conspired to have his business partner abducted and murdered in Mexico.

Voice of OC reported on the bizarre saga last week. As the publication notes, it comes at a time when the legal cannabis industry is trying to shed an image of lawlessness that unfairly follows it to this day.

Cannabis investor and property owner Salam Razuki was arrested on Friday, Nov. 16. U.S. District Court filings allege he and two of his associates, Sylvia Gonzalez and Elizabeth Juarez, met with an undercover FBI agent earlier this year in a murder-for-hire plot. The intended victim: Razuki’s estranged business partner Ninus Malan, whom Razuki sued over the summer.

The evidence suggests this is an isolated incident — a byproduct of greed and unscrupulousness that could be found in any industry. But some cannabis insiders appear to be worried about the larger implications of Razuki’s arrest.

The news of Razuki’s arrest comes at a high point for the legal industry in Southern California and beyond. President Donald Trump forced out U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a move that was greeted warmly by people in the marijuana industry because Sessions considers marijuana a dangerous drug that “good people” avoid.

Sessions’ departure has relieved investors who were looking and waiting from the outside, said Sam Humeid, president of the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance. “The gold rush is in full swing again,” he said.

But in San Diego, Humeid fears, the charges against Razuki and his associates could harm the prospects for reform. He and others have argued that the legal industry in San Diego meets the definition of an oligarchy, concentrating permits in the hands of a lucky few who can find the financial backing.

Making the case for a larger legal industry — for the City Council to expand the number of dispensaries and businesses citywide — is probably going to be harder now, Humeid said.

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