Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly has filed criminal charges against a pair of former leaders of one of the state’s two medical marijuana distributors, including an Otsego an who was one of the top security officers for the firm.
Dr. Laura L. Bultman, 41, of Apple Valley and Ronald D. Owens, 45 of Otsego are facing two counts of felony illegal transfer of medical marijuana oils, according to the complaints filed in Wright County District Court. The documents state the pair intentionally attempted to transfer the cannabis oil – a controlled substance despite its recent entrance into the medical system in Minnesota – to a “person other than allowed by law.”
Kelly said charges are pending against a third employee of the firm, Minnesota Medical Solutions. MMS teams with a local business entity in Otsego to operate a high-security growing greenhouse near Interstate 94 in Otsego, west of the Albertville Premium Outlets. According to information released when the business was founded in 2015 – Minnesota Medical Solutions was a locally owned, physician-led group composed of doctors, pharmacists, scientists, greenhouse operators, building contractors, educators and other supporters. In addition to the expertise of their team, they are working with multiple national medical cannabis industry experts including Brooke Gehring of People’s Choice Medical, in Denver, for training, consulting and operational procedures based on her experience with the regulated cannabis industry. Their manufacturing facility, located in Otsego, was started in July 2014.
According to the complaints, the two broke legal statute by either transporting or attempting to transport cannabis oil to a distribution center in New York owned by Viro Health, the current parent company of MMS. Owens and Bultman drove the drug in an armored vehicle to New York in an armored vehicle, the documents state, something not allowed under Minnesota law. During interviews, Owens told investigators the incident happened in 2015, prior to Christmas. This was after he had told investigators boxes, adding up to about 12 pounds of material, had been burned in Alexandria.
A tech at the plant disputed that, saying he had been to the New York facility the week before Christmas 2015 and saw the oils. And the waste company also disputed Owens’ claims that the materials were burned, saying some was collected, but only 2 to 3 pounds in smaller packages.
The duo attempted to produce documentation – twice – stating the oil had stayed in state. One order said the oil was taken to a dispensary in Minneapolis that is part of the MMS system. Another document, produced by Owens, showed the oil had been taken to an Alexandria, Minnesota solid waste facility and burned.
Bultman’s attorney, according to the Star Tribune, has asked for the district court judge to consider dismissing the case, saying the “charges are unfounded on the facts and untenable under the law.” Attorneys also called this “career ending” accusations against Bultman, who is the former Chief Medical Officer at MMS.
The investigations concludes that Bultman did approve and participate in the transfer with Owens to “avoid significant financial loss” for Vireo Health, adding that the oils were needed in New York to meet a production deadline.
Owens and Bultman are scheduled to appear in Wright County District Court at the end of this month.