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Vol. 8, No. 8 - February 25,  2022-- Edited by Dr. Lloyd Covens
BOYCOTT FOR BORIS?-- CuraLeaf chairman Boris Alekseyevich Jordan(left) has consumed more than a billion dollars since 2018 building up his goal to become the globe's largest cannabis firm. The source of much of that money is now under scrutiny having come from Russian business and oligarchs--many aligned with President Vladimir Putin. Will Putin's Ukraine invasion--and resulting sanctions-- rip apart the CURALEAF insider gameplan-- and force a potential re-alignment of ownership?  With 2021 revenues surpassing an estimated $1.5Bill., the map below profiles CuraLeaf holdings in 23 states:
Ukraine Sanctions to Hit
21% CuraLeaf Owner; May
Also Target Jordan's 31%

         A relentless pursuit of assets-- brands, retailers and grows--has pushed CuraLeaf to the number one spot in total cannabis revenues.  But the billions which have poured into the company from Russian oligarchs and former friends of the executive chairman, will shave out the backing of one Russian billionaire and could be the start of a totally changed CuraLeaf.  Boris Jordan, 52, may have thought his countless acquisitions--from buying SELECT in 2019 to absorbing NorthEast licenses with co-founder Joe Lusardi-- could thrive under the mantle of being a Canadian public company.   But this week's Ukraine invasion--and response from Western allies to bring unprecedented  financial sanctions-- is about to freeze assets of the 21%(down from 29%) owner of CuraLeaf, Russian oligarch Andrei Blokh, a close associate of Jordan.  But other Russian oligarchs-- Ruben Vardanyanm and Roman Abramovich are likely to be examined for past funding of many mega-deals-- all likely to to put an unblinking glare on the entire CuraLeaf enterprise.   Jordan's closely held SPUTNIK--an early supplier of CuraLeaf millions--is coming under government scrutiny as U.S. officials, according to sources, who want to close off all North American funds slated to be shared with Russian business ties.

           "No other cannabis firm has this kind of foreign investment profile," noted a senior cannabis DC source seeking anonymity to speak, adding:  "Now with Putin's Ukraine invasion, American MJ consumers will have to decide if their spending with Curaleaf, Select or UKU may have been part of  sending profits to Moscow," even as the world recoils at the Russian-initiated death and carnage ahead in the Ukrainian.    But its will not stop with the secretive Jordan--or with Blokh--as the glare of financial reckoning beings to untangle the Russian sources of  d of cash and control flowing into/out of Russia could ultimately lead to a disintegration of CuraLeaf-- also driven by new state regulators not interested in advancing the fortunes of such a oligarch-driven mega-cannabis MSO.           The day after Putin's first attack on Ukraine, CuraLeaf released this tweet: " “Curaleaf is an American success story founded by Me! Pls stop spreading misinformation. I was born in the US and live and work in the US! Our shareholder Andrei Blokh is also a US citizen" -- but Blokh resides in Moscow full time.  Later at week's end, the company released another statement, this one not directly quoting Jordan"The speculation on social media that the company and its major shareholders and executives will somehow be subject to any US government economic sanctions now or in the future is incorrect.
Of all top 25 MSOs, U.S. and Canadian owned companies have some foreign investors, but nothing on the scale of what Jordan has collected-- initially justified by the easy entry for CuraLeaf into gaining vertical licenses in  Florida(37), Pennsylvania (12), Illinois (10), Arizona (9),  Missouri (5) and four valuable verticals in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Michigan.   (see map above)  Massive U.S.-NATO nation sanctions are laser-focused on under-cutting access and movement of cash in-and-out of Russia--with a unknown number of additional Russian backers of CuraLeaf likely to see assets frozen.  
         But the deeper story at CuraLeaf beginning to un-ravel is the long-term team which 31% owner Jordan has assembled to run the Boston/Vancouver based MSO.   A New York-born American, Jordan's family raised him as a Russian speaker, reminded him of his lineage back to Alexander I, and led him to head to Russia in the late 1990s to be part of the collapse of communism, but start of new corruption as oligarchs (and Jordan himself) profited from selling off state-owned oil, gas, food, real estate and media in much of 200-2012. 

       From the current CuraLeaf board of directors, Peter Derby founded Dialog Banks(1989) and Troika Dialog (1991-97) which later became the vehicle for $8-$9billion in outflows from Russia, post laundered.  Some of those funds flowed to the control of Andray Rozov, who has been connected to a  plan for $310Mil. going to Trump Tower Toronto, and a pre-Presidential plan for more millions to build Trump Tower Moscow. (See the "Troika Laundramat" story at )

            Karl Johansson, another CuraLeaf board member worked from 1995 to 2014 on various Russian financial posts, notably Ernst Young CIS' Moscow office, and as a director of an financial advisory for Ukraine, Kazatstan and Latvia.  Jordan brought his long-time general counsel, Peter Laurence Clateman to Curaleaf in 2018, after Clateman's 15 year work at SPUTNIK, a key source of all first-hand data on Jordan's company dealings.  Johansson is chair of Russian's Acra Ratings, and was a veteran of the early 200os "aluminum wars" which created mega-mineral firm, Untel Co Rusa.  Another key exec., CuraLeaf senior vice president for business development Edward Kelenchuk, was another long-time investment insider at SPUTNIK.

        Each year Forbes compiles its list of Russian oligarchs, noting for 2021, Andrei Blokh now ranks number 71, with an estimated net worth growing to $1.9Bill., with stock holding in CuraLeaf that likely exceed $900Mil. in stock market cap.  In 2019, Blokh's  net worth of $905 million earned him the 101st spot on Forbes’ 2019 ranking published on Thursday. His former business partner, Roman Abramovich, placed 10th with a net worth of $12.4 billion.   Forbes reported: "Andrei Blokh was a long-time partner of Abramovich, being engaged in his oil business in the late 1990s, and in 1998 he headed oil company Sibneft. After the sale of Sibneft, Bloch took up Abramovich’s assets in the food industry, collecting Planet Management from disparate enterprises, and then together with a partner bought the dairy part of this business, Unimilk."   For the years when Jordan himself ventured to the post-USSR in the late 1990s, a lucrative series of his own role in privatizing Soviet assets meant connecting with many in or near Putin's trusted circle--and setting up his own mega-investment firm, SPUTNIK, which he still chairs today.   

       Other Russians have not been so fortunate to have their U.S. cannabis investment plans work out.  A convuluted attempt to lock down Southern California retail licenses by Russian millionaire Dima Bosov ended with his "suspicious" death.  And other Rudy Guilliani associates (Lev Parnas and others) attempted to gain entry into the Nevada cannabis industry with unsuccessful mega-dollar bribes to Nevada politicians.  Other Russian investments into the U.S. cannabis sector are likely to also come to light, with sanctions digging deep into the past ten years.

The Americans at CuraLeaf:  Joe Lusardi saw his MJ metering device company, Pallia Tech, get an early 2017 investment of 12% from Jordan.   Lusardi also founded the first MMJ dispensary in Maine, and was an early entrant into Massachusetts medical.  His company was granted one of the precious New Jersey MMJ permits, and today he is active working to expand the CuraLeaf footprint in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  PalliaTech was renamed CuraLeaf, and Lusardi is named as "co-founder" of CuraLeaf itself, although the subsequent purchases on Bloom, Tryke, Grass Roots and SELECT were the foundations that took CuraLeaf to see an expected $1.62Bil. in 2021 gross revenues.  GrassRoots founder Matt Davin sits on CuraLeaf's board, having sold his major MSO holdings to Jordan, and Mitch Kahn also is a board member having been a co-founder of GrassRoots--a sale for $900Mil in 2019.  See the extended OregonLive story here:

         Reaching back for the Washington Post op-ed which in 2007, Jordan seemed to be looking for
a kind word on why Putin had little hope of working with the West.  Jordan reasoned: "
They also see their stability compromised by American support for the Orange and Rose revolutions in the former Soviet Bloc nations and the rumblings of NATO expansion into Ukraine and Georgia. Russians once had high hopes for a partnership with the United States," even as Jordan worked on U.S.-Russian cooperation, adding "but today they look back on years of real and perceived transgressions and ask, “If these are allies, why do we want them?”  Today, after going to Russia to brag about his roots to Alexander I, his fluent Russian, and his ability to move in the all-powerful Putin power group, Jordan this week reverted to his stance as am American citizen, placing doubt on any talk of sanctions on him or his executive team.

         "Sanctions are going to be deep and unrelenting-- Jordan's partner Blokh has a massive target on his back," noted another industry expert, "and getting Curaleaf money flows back to Moscow is about to become impossible."       
   Much like a Russian nesting doll-- with each layer of interconnectivie only apparent after you open the next -- developments at CuraLeaf will yeild even further evidence of a massive flow of Russian oligarch cash.    That West420 News coverage in part 2 next week.

BELOW: CURALEAF Directors and Senior Management profiled.  Compiled by TheOrigin Source.   Coming up Thu, March 3rd   Curaleaf Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year End 2021 Financial Results Conference Call.    March 3, 2022    --  5:00 p.m. ET--Live Call: +1-888-317-6003 (U.S.), +1-866-284-3684 (Canada) or +1-412-317-6061 (In't) Passcode:  1618049    ---  Webcast:  
2021's ANNUAL STATE-BY-STATE report on best overall medical states Americans for Safe AccessASA) found only Illinois and Maine receiving a grade of B or better in its newest report. .  With new categories added, and some revisions to prior year metrics, the number of Ds and Fs increased, especially among the 13 states which still have no robust medical access program.  Last year's states receiving a B or better included California, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan and Massachusetts, along with 2021 returnees, Illinois and Maine.  Find the full report at:
Act Now:  New West420 Subscribers receive one 4-page mini-research summary on any item reported in 2022.   Includes 4 company links to CannaPlanna Week. SUPPORT GOOD MJ JOURNALISM WITH YOUR ORDER HERE:
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Cannabis News Briefs....
        New Mexico's adult-use access will begin with the nation's lowest MJ taxes, and a wide-open start for hundreds of hopeful micro-business cultivators.  On April 1st New Mexico does expect some RMJ shortages, but no likely huge price spikes, helped in part by the state's largest MMJ operator-- Ultra Health-- pledging a maximum price of $8.99 for all company grams.   "Our business plans is based on access and affordability," said Marissa Novel, chief marketing officer for  Ultra Health, who she says will reach out to partner with many new growers.  This week her company wrote regulators and the insurance industry asking they consider placing MMJ medical reimbursement (for PTSD, autism and other mental health issues) on all patient policies.  New Mexico's courts have already allowed the use of MMJ for worker's compensation claims, and expect additional court action around MMJ rights.  In fact, for all 30 stores across the state, Novel expects bringing the April 1st start with plenty of MMJ inventory, and a likely shortage of infused and concentrate products.

Across the internet--in in some local ads in states like Florida, Texas and Illinois-- purveyors of delta-8/delta-10/HHC low-THC sales appeals are continuously referring to their products as "hemp-derived." Since most of these products are the synthetic outcome of re-processing CBD, the U.S. Hemp Authority is calling for an end to the false consumer messaging.  USHR says the D-8 marketing claims are confusing Congress about needed FDA and USDA oversight, but have "have also spurred a number of state legislative and regulatory actions that while well intended, have been drafted so broadly as to threaten the provision of safe and healthy non- intoxicating products, like hemp-derived CBD."   Many states wanting to control the growth of delta-8 have written newsbill to accept products which don't  exceed "total THC" of any derivation beyond .03%, on a dry-weight basis.  USHR also hopes to see action on one or more House bills which would push the FDA into setting regulatory standards for CBD.   "Oregon, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, Alabama, Hawaii, Maryland, and likely others are proposing laws and/or regulations that are intended to crack down on intoxicating compounds, but could pose dangers to non-intoxicating hemp CBD" said USHR general counsel Jonathan Miller.

Link-0f-the-Week --  SAM, Smart Alternatives to Marijuana, has chalked up a successful year of pushing back against cannabis liberalization, and in its annual report it particularly cited the passage of Colorado's anti-MMJ bill 1317 a a major victory.   They write "The 117th Congress rejected the SAFE Banking Act, STATES Act, MORE Act, and every other attempt by Big Marijuana. We advanced amendments to encourage states to fund efforts to reduce stoned driving and expand scientific research on marijuana."  SAM holds its annual "Stop Cannabis" gathering in Washington on April 22.  Find the full report here:

State News:  The Virginia state senate (still controlled by Dems) advanced a new bill which seeks to push ahead with last year's legislative action for legalized MJ.  The Sen Adam Ebbin(D-Alexandria) sponsored bill would allow the start of RMJ sales as early as Sept., 2022(rather than the 2024 start anticipated in last year's measure), and initially only allow the four incumbent MMJ providers (Green Thumb, JUSHI, Columbia Care and Green Leaf Medical) to begin RMJ sales.  The measure will move to the Virginia Assembly, where the GOP-controlled chamber is likely to write its own, less friendly, legal cannabis bill.  ---California reportedtotal tax revenue at $308Mil. for 2021, and more than $3.44Bil in excise, sales and cultivation taxes since the start of regulated sales in Jan., 2018.

         Arizona saw a record start to its RMJ sales in 2021.  With about 134 stores licensed, consumers purchased MMJ purchases of $798Mil. and RMJ sales of $594, totaling $1.352Bil for the full year.  Excise taxes paid to the state exceeded $651Mil., with 47% of sales going to flower, and 24% to vaping options.   --  For the full year in Ohio, MMJ sales grew to $381Mil., up 72% from 2020's total sales.

In a rare boost to hemp sector farmers, New York has passed a bill allowing them the option to jumpstart the growth of cannabis in  licenses good till July 2024.  New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed S8084-A this week authorizing state-licensed hemp growers to obtain temporary licenses to commercially cultivate and process cannabis for the state’s forthcoming adult-use market.  Eligible applicants must possess a valid industrial hemp grower authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Markets as of December 31, 2021, be in good standing, and have grown and harvested hemp for at least two of the last four years.  The state is still writing the larger retail and processing rules to establish regulated sales, but the bill's intent was to allow more time for growers to be ready for retail demand, which now looks to be coming in early 2023.

Cannabis employment is growing past 400,000 across the country.  Leafley produced its annual employee report noting that 428,059 full-time equivalent jobs supported by legal cannabis as of January 2022. The new figure is a 33% increased over 2020, when the "essential" MJ business created an average of 280 new jobs per day.
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