Former illegal dispensary giant faces scrutiny over donations to New Brunswick PC party | The GrowthOp
Hank Merchant used to be one of New Brunswick’s largest cannabis retailers. Now he’s in the spotlight for questionable donations to the province’s Progressive Conservative (PC) party in 2018 and 2019.
According to CBC, election records show that Merchant and his wife, Anne Marie, donated a total of $7,500 to the party over the two years — the largest donation by a single household — despite the couple having declared personal bankruptcy in 2017.
Before cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018, Merchant ran a thriving chain of dispensaries in New Brunswick called HBB Medical Inc. Repeated police warnings and raids eventually forced the Merchants to close the stores and enter bankruptcy.
The donations to the PC party have raised eyebrows because they came at the exact time the Merchants were closing shop and claiming they were out of money. Political donations cannot legally be attributed to the dispensaries as New Brunswick law forbids companies from making direct or indirect contributions that come from personal property.
The couple still owes creditors close to $2.1 million but has reportedly only earned enough to pay $150 a month toward the debt over the past two years.
The conservatives, for their part, said they didn’t see anything wrong with the donations. “These contributions are under the $3,000.00 (per person) allowed by Elections NB,” said Rick Lafrance, PC party executive director. “We follow Elections New Brunswick Political financing Act.”
The news is troubling for former employees who say they got a raw deal from Hank Merchant, who told them the dispensaries he ran were legal and everyone they sold to had a prescription. Many were arrested and faced charges when the stores, which they say were bringing in up to $10,000 a day, were raided.
William Caines, a former HBB Medical employee said he was granted an absolute discharge when he had his day in court, but the charge remained on his record for a year, making it hard to find work.
“There was nothing I wouldn’t do for that guy,” he said. “I thought I could trust him.”
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This content was originally published here.