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EDIT: Medical Marijuana Application Allegedly Tied to Russian Investor

— October 20, 2023

Curaleaf was once connected to Russian investor Roman Abramovich. However, the company insists that these connections no longer exist.

Any business dealing that has ties to Russia, including investor opportunities, have been particularly controversial for the last couple of years, for obvious reasons. One of the interesting components of this situation has been the varied places where Russian influences have started to show up and be uncovered. In one recent case, there were allegedly signs of Russian investment in the application for a medical marijuana license in the state of Alabama.

Normally, this wouldn’t be too surprising or noteworthy, as many markets today are global in nature and the marijuana industry, in particular, is known to attract investment from far and wide. However, with the added scrutiny that is currently present in this area, stories continue to pop up that can lead to companies changing plans altogether once the news enters the public realm. That might not be the case in this instance, although it’s an interesting story to explore, nonetheless.

This is the kind of story that would be easy to miss if not for people paying close attention to small details. A business named 3 Notch Roots, which is located in Andalusia, Alabama, filed an application for a medical marijuana license within the state and those filings are public record (although redacted). By looking through the details associated with such filings, it’s possible to gain a perspective on who is trying to invest in the market and what businesses are being formed around medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana Application Tied to Russian Investor
Photo by Yash Lucid from Pexels

One of the names on the application is listed as Andrey Blokh, who is part owner of a company called Curaleaf. Curaleaf Holdings Inc. the largest publicly traded cannabis company in the U.S. by market capitalization, with plans to continue expanding, even as far as into Canada. At one time, the company was significantly funded by a Russian named Roman Abramovich.

Mr. Abramovich was the owner of Chelsea FC, one of the most famous soccer teams in the world, and he has been a major investor in countless projects, including in those in the cannabis world. As with many other Russians, he has faced sanctions and other ramifications as a result of his Russian ties and connections to Putin. Anyone who has followed the various developments involving Russia over the past couple of years has likely come across Mr. Abramovich’s name at least a few times.

According to Curaleaf, this story doesn’t go much further than that. It does not deny that Roman Abramovich was a source of capital at one point in its development, but also states that his loans were repaid before any Russian activity started in Ukraine. From its perspective, he does not have any ongoing participation in the company, according to a statement, and was only one of many sources of capital that were used.

Editor’s note: A Curaleaf representative contacted LegalReader with the following statement:

Curaleaf statement
Mr. Abramovich was one of many worldwide sources of capital raised over several years to build PalliaTech, a medical cannabis start-up that later became Curaleaf. Those loans, which were legal, well-documented – and not secret – were repaid well before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. PalliaTech was one of thousands of companies globally and in the U.S. that were beneficiaries of Mr. Abramovich’s financing (including many blue-chip firms and several cannabis companies). At the time he was a much sought-after investor and a well-recognized businessman around the world. While the narrative has changed due to the current media environment, he remains unsanctioned in the United States.
The Curaleaf representative gave an additional statement from 3 Notch Roots:
Hannah Carter statement (3 Notch Roots)
My family is Indigenous to this region and we have deep roots in agriculture, which made us an ideal partner for the team at Curaleaf as they sought to ensure a local approach to their launch in the state of Alabama. We have always been transparent about our intentions to secure a license in the state of Alabama and we have adhered to every regulatory disclosure and requirement throughout the application process.


Company that applied for Alabama medical marijuana license alleged to have Russian ties

Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission

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