Curaleaf’s attempt to obtain a medical cannabis license in Alabama has been met with controversy after concerns related to ownership arose yet again, while the primary applicant, a local Alabamian, is reported to have passed away before the licensing process was completed.
On Tuesday, Alabama Political Reporter (APR) obtained documents that shed light on a startling connection between one of the highest-scoring companies vying for an integrated cannabis license, 3 Notch Roots LLC, and a man alleged to have ties with a U.S.-sanctioned Russian oligarch, known to be a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the “Ownership Resume” section of their application paperwork, 3 Notch Roots identifies Andrey Blokh as one of its partial owners. Notably, Blokh is also a part-owner of Curaleaf, a leading cannabis company in the United States. Forbes recognizes Blokh as holding a substantial stake, estimated at over 21 percent, in the entire American cannabis market. Adding to the intrigue, Boris Johnson, the chairman of Curaleaf, is also listed as an owner of 3 Notch Roots.
However, the most eyebrow-raising revelation is Blokh’s association with Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Abramovich has faced sanctions from the European Union, the UK, and the United States in the wake of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
Last year, the U.S. government attempted to seize Abramovich’s assets, including his yacht. A February report from Vice News highlighted leaked documents linking Abramovich to Curaleaf, suggesting that he played a pivotal role in funding the U.S. cannabis industry. These leaked documents unveiled that Abramovich poured over $200 million into Curaleaf, previously known as Palliatech, between 2016 and 2018. Furthermore, they revealed that Abramovich went to great lengths to conceal his investments in the American cannabis sector.
Curaleaf meanwhile maintains that it has no connection to Abramovich, with an update to APR’s story including the commentary from a Curaleaf spokesperson that “This is old news, and that individual has no stake in Curaleaf.”
3 Notch Roots seems to be a subsidiary of Curaleaf, a conglomerate that claims the title of the world’s largest licensed marijuana company.
APR also sought to establish contact with the listed owner of 3 Notch Roots in Alabama. According to the documents, Mertha Carter holds a 51% stake in the company through her sole shareholder status at Carter’s Contracting Services in Andalusia.
However, an obituary for Carter indicates that she passed away in March, a significant detail given that applications for an Alabama license were still being submitted at that time. The perplexing question arises as to how Carter, whose business primarily revolves around construction and excavation, became associated with a cannabis enterprise with apparent ties to Russian billionaires.
Equally perplexing is how 3 Notch Roots managed to secure such a high ranking in the licensing process, landing in the eighth position out of 38 applicants, just five points behind the final recipient of a license in June’s second round of awards. The AMCC’s scoring sheet reveals concerns regarding ownership resumes, proof of residency in the state, and commercial horticulture experience. Despite these shortcomings, questionable ownership connections, and the passing of its majority owner, who was an Alabama resident, 3 Notch Roots still outperformed 30 other applicants.
The company’s application, which is available on the AMCC website, is heavily redacted, a practice permitted by the commission, leaving very little information accessible about the company.
Information for this story was found via Alabama Political Reporter and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Views expressed within are solely that of the author. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.