Damian Fagon, high-ranking cannabis official, placed on administrative leave after NY Cannabis Insider investigation

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Following an investigation by NY Cannabis Insider into allegations of retaliation and selective enforcement by the state agency, a high-level official at the Office of Cannabis Management has been placed on administrative leave.

Damian Fagon, the chief equity officer of the OCM, was put on leave last week, as confirmed by an agency spokesperson.

OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander stated in a statement to NY Cannabis Insider that the regulatory body takes questions regarding the integrity of their systems seriously.

The Office has taken the necessary step of placing Mr. Fagon on leave in order to conduct a transparent and thorough investigation into the allegations made. It is crucial for us to maintain our integrity and credibility during this critical time for the cannabis market, as we strive to build a sustainable and equitable industry. Rest assured, the valuable work carried out by our Social & Economic Equity Team will continue without interruption during this period.

Fagon did not respond immediately when asked for comment.

Fagon has left the position following an investigation conducted by NY Cannabis Insider regarding Jenny Argie, a processor from the Hudson Valley. Argie became the subject of the state’s first and only recall.

According to court documents filed last week, Argie alleges that the Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCM) retaliated against them by issuing the state’s initial recall in December. This recall was prompted by one of Argie’s products falling slightly below its advertised THC level by 1 milligram. Argie believes that the recall was in response to them leaking audio from a conversation with Fagon.

The conversation’s contents were published in November.

Fagon confidently stated, “I know it was Jenny,” during that time.

Argie expressed mixed emotions upon learning that Mr. Fagon had been placed on administrative leave. In an interview with NY Cannabis Insider, Argie stated, “It’s bittersweet news. I have always advocated for a level playing field that gives small businesses, social equity applicants, and licensees the opportunity to showcase their innovation and success.”

In her statement, she expressed her hope that those who have been hesitant to speak up now feel empowered to use their voice. She also encouraged the OCM to collaborate closely with the Cannabis Control Board and individuals like herself who are striving to guide the New York cannabis industry towards a promising and fair future.

Last week, Argie filed a lawsuit against the OCM to lift the stop-work order that had been imposed on her facility earlier this month. The reason for the stop-work order was the three-month investigation into allegations of retaliation, which was brought to the attention of the state agency by NY Cannabis Insider.

Argie’s products are currently under quarantine, and her facility has been shut down following a second enforcement effort that specifically targeted her business. This unfortunate situation has led to a pause in her cash flow, according to Argie.

Argie claims in her court documents that the authorities’ actions were an excessive and forceful reaction to her decision to come forward and publicly discuss the recall that occurred in December.

According to her, if the penalties are not lifted, the processor, who is a cancer survivor and has been a strong supporter of New York-focused businesses, will be forced to shut down by the end of this month.

Entrepreneur and founder of the multi-state cannabis brand Blak Mar Farms, Ruben Lindo, emphasized the importance of due process for Fagon. In Lindo’s view, this situation serves as a valuable lesson, highlighting the inherent right of Americans to voice their disapproval of government actions, regardless of race or creed.

Lindo expressed his disappointment, stating, “Regrettably, Jenny did not receive the same opportunity.”

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