Same Story, Different Spin
It has been a full week since Tony Verzura, owner of River Rock and United Cannabis Corp co-founder was interviewed on The Adam Dunn Show on iCannabis Radio, and all seems quiet, but there is a storm coming. The backlash has yet to begin for what is going down in history as the moment in the cannabis industry when unethical corporate players officially entered the game. Earlier in the month, United Cannabis Corporation appointed John C. Hunter III to be an advisor on their board. He has a strong corporate background, but with a little digging, it is revealed to be a very shady one. Everyone knew that the cannabis industry would go corporate in a matter of time, but this strategic move has left community members’ heads spinning.
During the interview, Verzura was very nervous when speaking about United Cannabis’ decisions and strategy, which was evident in the amount of swallowing he did while speaking. Note that later in the interview, when he was discussing topics he was comfortable with, he spoke clearly and very fluidly. And he should be uncomfortable. Hunter has been involved in some nasty situations, including taking the helm of a Monsanto company called Solutia when it was discovered that they had poisoned an entire town with cancer causing PCBs, as well as a history of being implicated in market manipulation, SEC violations, and price fixing. Hmmmm, you don’t say? Why would these skills be beneficial for United Cannabis? Surely it can’t only be because he is a superior businessman with leadership skills that Tony Verzura says he needs to protect himself from corporate sharks. If that were the case, then why not hire someone more like Bill Gates? Could it be because Hunter also has a background connected to the American Chemical Council and even ALEC, the organization that puts forth laws, including ones that promote the prison industrial complex? Why someone with such a shady character? There are so many questions still unanswered, and that is the biggest problem here, too many questions. If he were operating in a manner than we all felt were legit, there wouldn’t be so many more unanswered questions.
Verzura claimed that he is playing chess while others are watching checkers, but he fails to realize the red flags that the rest of the world seems to see very clearly, or, he is just spinning it so that it looks better than what it is, a strategy to monopolize the cannabis industry. He says that he is elbowing out Monsanto and GW Pharmaceuticals so that he can beat them to be the first to be like them. Really, that is what he says! All one has to do is see the business strategies that the other companies have used to see what United Cannabis wants to accomplish. Yet, does it have to done using the same crooked political and financial maneuverings that has enabled the top 1% to hijack our democracy? He has a shady character playing coach for them, so we can only expect the same shady business dealings that as a community we cry out against.
There has been some defense of Tony Verzura, most of it from people saying that he is a nice guy that helps sick people. Not all people who help people are benevolent. It is a known fact sociopaths are the best fakers of emotion, so publicly putting patients first, and privately scheming with people who worked for companies that cause cancer, is not out of the realm of possibility. No one is suggesting that Tony Verzura or John C. Hunter III are sociopaths, just reminding people that just because someone has a good brand and compassionate attitude, it doesn’t mean that they are a good person.
Perhaps people should not worry about losing revenue by not siding with River Rock, and take a stand like Rare Dankness did. As a community we need to say that we have had enough of this same ol’ game and challenge the cannabis industry to be the change that many have professed to desire in our economy. It seems now that money is involved, people forgot the bigger picture of making this world a better place. It starts now. The Cannabis Consumers Union, will be boycotting all products and companies born out of United Cannabis and River Rock. We hope you join us.
Founder and Executive Director Larisa Bolivar has over 14 years of experience in the cannabis movement as well as over 10 years of start-up and staffing experience in corporate America, including having worked for a start-up valuated at $1 billion. Not a stranger to the corporate game, Larisa also has a B.S. in Psychology with Communications course work from the University of Phoenix, and is currently obtaining her M.A. in Public Policy from Regis University, which give her expert knowledge in how behavior impacts consumer choice, policy, and business. She is also a pioneer in the cannabis industry having founded the Colorado Compassion Club, Denver’s first dispensary established in 2004.
Link to Tony Verzura Interview on The Adam Dunn Show on 7/9/14: