A Florida-based multistate cannabis company was fired up after learning its Arizona partners may have been rolling up kickback schemes.
Trulieve Cannabis Corp. filed a civil racketeering lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court on Aug. 24. The suit alleged that two former purchasing managers participated in commercial bribery to ensure the products of five other cannabis brands made it to the shelves of Trulieve's 21 licensed dispensaries throughout Arizona.
According to the suit, third-party vendors artificially increased the purchasing price of their products and gave kickbacks to Trulieve purchasing managers Daniel Hirchak and Randall Uberecken for the difference between the inflated price and the actual price.
Court documents also claimed the duo sold bogus consulting services through two companies: YDD LLC and CTWWW LLC. The documents charged that the businesses were “shell companies with Hirchak and Uberecken as the sole respective members.”
Both Hirchak and Uberecken worked for Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation before Trulieve acquired the company in October 2021 in a $2.1 billion merger. The deal effectively made Trulieve one of the largest cannabis companies in the U.S. It also gave Hirchak and Uberecken the ability to siphon at least $1 million over a three-year period from 2020-2023, the suit alleged.
As of May 2023, there were 144 licensed dispensaries operating in Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. With a limited number of dispensaries, competition for product placement is stiff, which Trulieve’s lawsuit suggested was the impetus for Hirchak and Uberecken to accept the bribes.
Hirchak and Uberecken both resigned their positions with Trulieve in May. They did not respond to requests for comment from Phoenix New Times.
Trulieve also named Nature’s Wonder, the producer of TRU Infusions’ cannabis products, as a defendant in the lawsuit. The TRU Infusions brand, which includes a range of flower, edibles and concentrates, is stocked in 30 different Phoenix dispensaries, according to WeedMaps.
"Hirchak admitted he and Uberecken, through YDD and CTWWW, received kickback payments from Nature's Wonder," court documents said.
Nature’s Wonder did not respond to a request for comment.
Scottsdale-based Healing Resources and Consulting LLC also was accused by Trulieve of providing kickbacks. Healing Resources produces CBD products ranging from oils and capsules to edibles and topicals.
A representative from Healing Resources declined to comment on the lawsuit.
YourWay Cannabis Brands, along with two of its subsidiaries, YourWay Cottonwood and Labtronix, doing business as Venom Extracts, also are named in the suit.
Trulieve asked for a jury trial, damages and attorneys' fees in the lawsuit.