SEC files charges against pot stock millionaire

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Cannabis has it bad enough. Decades of negative government propaganda, mainstream media hyperbole, and black market perpetuated negative circumstances have led to a negative public perception. Many good men and women have been working for years to change that. Unfortunately, as in any industry, there are characters who meddle in shady business practices that hurt investors and employees.

In Cannabis, these characters’ dealings also undermine the hard work put in to change public perception. These characters, in effect, are damaging the industry for personal gain. They harm patients who need their medicine, they harm advocacy groups who have to clean up their mess, and they harm employees who were non-the-wiser about their employer’s true intentions.

The parasites of the cannabis industry need to be stopped, and in these circumstances we must often rely on our least likely ally – the federal government.

When states starting permitting the use of marijuana for medical use, a group of pot stocks soared high on the penny stock market in 2013 and 2014. No stock flew higher than CannaVest, which at its high, had a market valuation of $3 billion.

On Friday, June 9th, the Securities & Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against CannaVest (which recently changed its name to CV Sciences) and its CEO, Michael Mona, Jr. CV Sciences has a current market capitalization of $26 million.

CannaVest and Mona’s dealings have been covered in almost every matter of journalism – from Forbes and Bloomberg to Leafly and SeekingAlpha. Most articles attempt to highlight the ridiculousness of the penny stock bubble. However, Mona told Forbes “Our sole focus is to source and supply the highest-quality industrial hemp available on the market”. Yet their company never actually never sold industrial hemp. They did sell an extensive line of questionable quality CBD products, but sales were dismal.

Still, through the pot stock craze, for a brief moment, one of Mona’s partners even became the first pot stock “billionaire.” A company with a year end revenue of 1.23 million created, albeit for a short time, the first marijuana billionaire.

According to a 22-page complaint the SEC filed in federal court in Nevada, Mona and CannaVest overstated the company’s assets in 2013 by manipulating the acquisition price of a company called PhytoSphere. The SEC is seeking civil penalties from both Mona and CannaVest and wants Mona barred from being an officer or director of a public company.

The case centers on improper asset valuation not just of the entity purchased but of the stock used as consideration for the deal. The commission’s action got a jumpstart from admissions by the promoter who put the deal together – apparently he had to chat about the fabulous deal he made where nothing for nothing equaled something. At least for a while.

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Source: 420 Intel – United States

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