The former chief medical officer and former chief security officer of Minnesota Medical Solutions, or MMS, one of the state’s two manufacturers of medical marijuana, are accused of diverting more than a half-million dollars worth of cannabis oil from Minnesota to an out-of-state facility and altering records to disguise the transaction, according to court documents filed Monday.
Dr. Laura L. Bultman, 41, of Apple Valley, and Ronald D. Owens, 45, of Otsego, Minn., each were charged in Wright County District Court with two felony counts of intentionally transferring the drug to a “person other than allowed by law.” The County Attorney’s office said charges are pending against a third employee of MMS.
The criminal complaints do not say that any money changed hands in connection with the alleged transfer from Otsego to New York.
According to the complaints, Bultman and Owens in December 2015 drove the drug in an armored vehicle from MMS’s Otsego facility to a medical marijuana dispensary in New York state that is owned by Vireo Health, the parent company of MMS.
Paperwork initially indicated that the oil was bound from the Otsego plant to a patient center in Minneapolis. Owens later produced allegedly false documents showing the oil had been taken to a solid waste facility in Alexandria, Minn., to be burned.
Bultman’s attorney, Paul Engh, said the medical cannabis statute in question has never been used and he will ask for the charges to be dismissed. If that is not successful, “We’ll attack it on all fronts.
“Dr. Bultman has a long history of care to the patients of Minnesota,” Engh said. “The charges are unfounded on the facts and untenable under the law,” adding that the charges are a “career-ending allegation” against Bultman.
The complaints note that many of the allegations against Bultman and Owens come from a former chief scientific officer of MMS who was fired in April 2016.
The documents said: The scientific officer was sent to the New York facility in early December 2015, where he found that three of the five plant strains there didn’t produce enough of the components needed to create medical marijuana. When the scientific officer returned, he met on Dec. 5 in “a secure vault” at the Otsego facility with Bultman and two other employees who asked him to find four or five jars of oil concentrate at the Otsego plant that would “rescue New York.”
“Bultman said she would get the jars ... [to] New York ... and “would make the inventory disappear,” the complaints said.
Bultman made entries in the company’s software tracking system on Dec. 10 and 16 that the jars of oil, which would weigh a total of about 12 pounds, were “outbound” to Minneapolis.
Investigators learned that the Minneapolis center sells only pills and capsules; it cannot properly store or process quantities of oil.
Owens told investigators in May 2016 that he and Bultman had driven to New York on Dec. 5 and 6, 2015, to deliver the armored vehicle and some equipment and to set up New York dispensaries.
A week before Owens was interviewed, a technician at the Otsego plant whose job involves converting oil into finished products told investigators that he was at the New York facility the week before Christmas 2015 and saw jars of oil “labeled in the same manner as the jars in Minnesota were labeled.”
Owens showed investigators documents purporting to show that about 12 pounds of oil were destroyed at the Alexandria waste facility in April 2016.
But employees at the waste facility said although they’d destroyed “five or six little boxes” from MMS’s Otsego facility, the weight of the material was less than 2 pounds.
The complaints end with the investigators’ conclusion that Bultman, Owens and the man whose charges are pending formed this plan “in order to meet a production deadline for ... medical marijuana product in New York and thus avoid significant financial loss for Vireo Health.”
In a statement, Vireo Health said they were cooperating with investigators.
“We take seriously our legal obligations, our regulatory responsibilities and our own standards and procedures in this area,” it said.
The Minnesota Department of Health also said it will “continue to provide assistance as requested by law enforcement.”
Bultman and Owens were charged by summons and are scheduled to make their first court appearance Feb. 28.