Miller Barondess Files Suit On Behalf Of FGPQ Against PayQwick And Its Executive Officers For Fraud

CALIFORNIA: The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that Defendants PayQwick and its executive team, consisting of CEO Keith Marks, President Kenneth Berke and CFO Albert Acevedo, defrauded Plaintiff FGPQ LLC.

Per the Complaint, PayQwick provides financial services to cash-based cannabis related businesses. PayQwick, through Keith Marks and Kenneth Berke, sought investment into the company from outside investors. Marks and Berke secured a significant investment from Plaintiff by making various representations relating to PayQwick’s ability to imminently facilitate credit and debit card processing services for its cannabis customers, which PayQwick promised would result in significant revenue to PayQwick beginning in the fourth quarter of 2017. The lawsuit alleges that these representations were intentionally false and misleading, as the company has still yet to launch these services to date and appears unable to do so.

According to the lawsuit, PayQwick, Berke and Marks also repeatedly violated the terms of the Investors Rights Agreement that governs Defendants’ relationship with Plaintiff. These breaches include providing themselves substantial raises, entering into predatory and self-serving contracts, and representing to Plaintiff and the public that they were in business lines that they were not in.

The Complaint further alleges that, consistent with their pattern of unethical behavior throughout the relationship, Defendants engaged in a scheme to defraud Plaintiff into subordinating its substantial investment in PayQwick. Defendants made repeated representations to Plaintiff that PayQwick had finalized an important financial relationship to induce Plaintiff to agree to subordinate its interest to a new investor. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff discovered that, instead, this important financial relationship had been severed, threatening the financial viability of PayQwick. Defendants deliberately withheld this important information from Plaintiff.

The Complaint seeks damages from PayQwick and its officers in their individual capacity. In addition to compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees, Plaintiff seeks to rescind its initial investment into the company, and any consent to subordinate its interest in the company, as Plaintiff was induced to enter into these agreements by fraud and deceit.

Cashing In On Cannabis: CannaCon’s Banking Panel

By Sahar Ayinehsazian

Since Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, recreational cannabis sales have totaled over $1 billion, translating to more than $250 million collected in new taxes. Such substantial sales, however, have also brought problems for licensees in the form of cash.

Because of marijuana’s federal status as a Schedule I substance, financial institutions continue to deny banking services to state licensed marijuana businesses. Consequently, these businesses have been forced to deal in cash and suffer the sometimes lethal consequences.

There are, however, licensed marijuana businesses who have broken free from cash with the help of third party platforms like PayQwick. Licensed marijuana businesses can now easily access regular businesses bank accounts, cash management and bill pay services and the ability to send and receive electronic payments. These businesses also enjoy the added benefit of compliance services, which keep them operating in line with all of the state’s regulations.

To learn how to break free from cash, marijuana business owners and those considering the marijuana industry can attend CannaCon’s banking panel, Cashing In On Cannabis – Compliance, Banking and Cash Management” on Friday, February 17, 2017 at 11:30 am in seminar room two. Moderated by MJBA CEO and Co-Founder David Rheins, the panel features industry experts Kenneth Berke, Christine Masse, John Vardaman and Myles Khan.

Ken Berke is the Co-Founder and CEO of PayQwick, a compliance, cash management and electronic payment processing platform that has facilitated regular business bank accounts for over 200 licensed marijuana businesses throughout Washington. He is also an attorney with 29 years of experience and has advocated for the legal marijuana industry before regulators throughout the U.S.

Christine Masse is a partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, where she leads the government and regulatory affairs practice group and specializes in representing businesses in highly regulated industries with their transactional, regulatory, and public policy needs. She also leads the firm’s tribal team, providing counsel to various Northwest Native American tribes and organizations on matters such as marijuana.

Myles Harlow Kahn is a legal officer at Foundry Law. His practice focuses on corporate, entertainment, intellectual property, business development, cannabis and regulatory matters. He is also the owner of Buddy’s in Renton, one of Washington’s most prominent marijuana retailers.

John Vardaman is Executive Vice President & General Counsel of Hypur, makers of technology enabling financial institutions to service cash-intensive businesses in accordance with legal compliance requirements. He helped author the Cole Memorandum, the DOJ document outlining how financial institutions can bank marijuana businesses in states where cannabis has been legalized.

Washington Legal Pot Prices Fall To Under $10 In July

WASHINGTON: The price of legal marijuana at Washington’s legal recreational pot shops has fallen to an historic low of under $10 per gram of flower. Industry insiders place the cause squarely on the state’s newly rejiggered marijuana laws. Consumers and retailers are happy with the new low price points; while many producer/processors are struggling to differentiate.

“The impact of HB 2136 was dramatic on the price of marijuana in the WA retail shops,” said Brian Yauger, CEO of Front Runner, formerly TetraTrak, a leading provider of business intelligence for the legal cannabis industry.  “The average cost of a gram of flower dropped almost 25% a gram to under $10.  That now puts i502 recreational prices on par with medical.”

HB2136, signed into law on June 30th by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, consolidates cannabis excise tax, and allows local jurisdictions to share marijuana tax revenues to encourage more cities and counties to allow for legal pot shops.  It went into effect on July 1st, and the result was an immediate drop in retail sales prices. 

In response, Front Runner and Marijuana Business Association have teamed up to present the 2015 Washington Marijuana Retailer Seminar on October 5th at the Red Lion Hotel in Bellevue, WA.    The MJBA Professional Seminar will feature presentations from Yauger and TetraTrak CDO Joe Armes, who will provide a comprehensive look at the WSLCB wholesale and retail sales data to date, with an eye toward giving 502 retailers actionable business intelligence.

“I want every retailer who attends this seminar to feel that they’ve gotten the value of the ticket price back in the first 15 minutes of the event,” Yauger told MJNN.

Leading Retailer Uncle Ike’s founder Ian Eisenberg will be a featured speaker and panelist. He’ll be joined by an impressive lineup of top retailers including Evergreen Market, Satori and The Joint.  Top cannabis brands Zoots, Mirth Provisions, Evergreen Herbal, Buddy Boy Farm and Monkey Grass Farms will participate as featured panelists.  Event sponsors include Green Bits, PayQwick, Visual Options, CannaVentures and Sky High Gardens.   

The PayPal Of Recreational Pot: Startup Aims To Eliminate Cash From Washington State Marijuana business

WASHINGTON: Recreational marijuana may be legal in Washington state, but in many ways, it’s still a risky business.

The biggest risk is that nearly all transactions happen with cash. And not just customers buying marijuana, but much bigger transactions when retailers buy from the producers that actually grow the pot.

Everyone uses cash because banks, which are federally regulated, aren’t keen on the idea of getting into business in an industry that is still federally illegal.

Now, there’s a company that’s bringing electronic payments to the world of recreational marijuana, and it could be a game-changer.

I-502 Compliant Banking & Merchant Services Is Monday, June 29th In Bellevue, WA

WASHINGTON: If you have anything to do with banking or merchant services for Washington’s legal cannabis industry, you’ll want to make sure to attend the Marijuana Business Association’s Professional Education Seminar on I-502 Compliant Banking & Merchant ServicesMonday, June 29th, 2015 1:00-4:30PM a the Red Lion Hotel, 11211 Main St. Bellevue, WA 98004. Featuring an impressive lineup of the state’s leading authorities on cannabis industry banking and finances, the event was organized by the MJBA at the behest of state’s I-502 Licensees and applicant, MJBA members and other cannabis industry service providers. The half day seminar will feature presentations and panel participation from:

  • Washington State Department of Financial Institutions Director of Banking, Rick Riccobono;
  • Timberland Bank COO, Jonathan Fischer
  • Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board CFO, Mike Kashmar
  • Legal Officer at Foundry Law Group and I-502 Retail Licensee Myles Kahn
  • PayQwick CEO Ken Berke and CFO Keith Marks
  • President & Executive Director of the Community Bankers of Washington, Mark MacDonald
  • Moderation, David Rheins, Executive Director of the Marijuana Business Association

Foundry Law Group will sponsor a post-event reception at the hotel bar at the conclusion of the seminar.

Spokane’s First Cannabis Job Fair Draws Huge Crowds

WASHINGTON: Nearly 900 eager job seekers turned out for Spokane’s first ever cannabis job fair this past weekend, many of them lining up as early as 7:30 to drop their resumes off and meet some of eastern Washington’s leading cannabis industry employers.

Organized by the Marijuana Business Association, and presented by Washington NORML and the Islander, MJBA Job Fair Spokane was held at the Spokane Convention Center and featured employers and exhibitors included leading cultivators Washington’s Finest Cannabis, Blue Roots Cannabis, Triple T Farms, Kush Comfort Farms, and Buddy Boy, who were looking for trimmers and agricultural help; leading cannabis brands including Evergreen Herbal, Cannabis Training Institute, 420MEDIA, Analytically Correct, Mosaic Insurance, PayQwick, BioTrackTHC, Miller Soils, WeedTraQR, and Dope Magazine.

The Inlander publisher Ted McGregor delivered the keynote address, using the occasion to look back on the first year of Washington legal cannabis (the state’s first recreational shops opened on July 8, 2014).  Ted gave a shout out to Spokane resident Mike Boyer, the first recreational pot consumer in the state who subsequently lost his job after a workplace drug test confirm his legal consumption, who was in attendance at the fair optimistically seeking employment opportunities.  He drew parallels between the end of alcohol prohibition and today’s unravelling of the failed war on drugs.

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Business Intelligence expert Joe Armes, Analytically Correct, preceded the keynote, and delivered the MJ Research Jobs Report in which Analytically Correct estimates WA State recreation cannabis direct industry jobs to be 3,000 – 4,000 by the end of 2015 and 5,000 – 6,000 by the end of 2016.

MJ Research Jobs Report

MJ Research Jobs Report

420MEDIA and Kerri Accardi were in the house, hosting an open casting call for their upcoming web series, Hmm…Did You know.   A panel of cannabis cultivators from Washington’s Finest Cannabis, Farmer Tom Organics, Kush Comfort Farms talked about careers as a pot farmer.  Other featured speakers included Luc Nelson, Cannabis Training Institute; Kevin Oliver, Washington NORML; Melissa Braddock, Eden Labs; Norm Ives, Mosaic Insurance; Dan McMahon, BioTrackTHC, Aubrey Armes, Analytically Correct HR; Eric Ogden, WeedTraQR; Isaac Curtis, UFCW; Crystal Oliver, Washington’s Finest Cannabis; Terry Polyak, PayQwick; Kerri Accardi, 420MEDIA; Heather Gehrman, Evergreen Herbal; and Jon Hofer, RMMC Consulting.

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