A Colorado hemp company has filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court alleging conspiracy by Governor Jared Polis, other state officials and individual hemp stakeholders who the company says have harmed its business.
Longmont-based BoCo Farms alleges bid rigging in the award of a contract by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) to Marijuana Policy Group (MPG), a Denver-based consulting firm. MPG was awarded the contract in 2020 under the Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP) program, an initiative designed to advance the development of the state’s hemp sector.
The lawsuit, filed last month, further alleges state officials, MPG representatives and specific industry players in Colorado engaged in libel, slander and libel.
Both BoCo Farms and Grant Orvis, the company’s CEO and chairman, are plaintiffs in the challenge to the contract, which awarded MPG the development of a hemp center of excellence under CHAMP. The lawsuit, filed on February 8, grew out of a grassroots initiative launched in July 2020 that first flagged the issue of the CDA-MPG deal.
125 page trial
BoCo and Orvis were losers in the state tender, which “all of the defendants, combined and/or conspired to interfere with, lessen and eliminate the competitions, and thereby rig,” the 125-page lawsuit alleges. .
“BoCo and Orvis were systematically attacked and damaged by defendants in willful and indiscriminate disregard of their lives, livelihoods and professional careers,” according to the lawsuit, which recounts voluminous emails and other correspondence between the defendants who he claims were part of a conspiracy.
In addition to Polis, the people named as defendants are:
- Salmeron Barnes, managing partner at MPG;
- Christopher Beall, former Colorado Deputy Attorney General;
- Morris Beegle, owner of WAFBA, Colorado Hemp Company, NoCo Hemp Expo and other trade shows;
- Wondirad Gebru, Director of the Plant Industry Division at CDA;
- Hollis Glenn, director of CDA’s Inspection and Consumer Services Division;
- Kate Greenberg, CDA Commissioner;
- Daniel Huse, former purchasing manager at CDA;
- Courtney Krause, Polis Deputy Legal Counsel;
- Ed Lehrburger, former chairman of the Colorado Hemp Advisory Board;
- Adam Orens, owner of MPG;
- Laura Pottorff, former head of plant protection and certification at CDA;
- Clinton Saloga, an MPG employee;
- Ean Seeb, Polis’ special advisor on cannabis;
- Billy Seiber, senior assistant attorney general representing CDA;
- CDA Deputy Commissioner Steve Silverman.
BoCo and Orvis are not seeking specific monetary awards in the lawsuit, suggesting that they are seeking “an amount to be proven at trial, post-judgment interest on all damages awarded at trial, costs and court fees. ‘attorney. . . and such other relief as the Court deems just and appropriate.
The plaintiffs requested a jury trial.
READ: BoCo Farms v Jared Polis (et al)