Accused Marijuana Ring Leader Pleads Not Guilty

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — The accused ring leader of an operation that allegedly diverted and sold more than $13 million in marijuana grown for Maine’s medical cannabis program pleaded not guilty Thursday to eight charges.

Lucas Sirois, 41, of Farmington, was arraigned in federal court on charges stemming from an elaborate program in which marijuana that was grown in western Maine for registered caregivers was sold illegally with the proceeds being laundered through a complex corporate structure.

He was the first of 11 people to be arraigned on Thursday. Others facing charges include two deputies who allegedly were given cars along with other law enforcement officials who were also accused of aiding the illegal operation based in Farmington.

Charges against Sirois include conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder money, bank fraud and tax evasion. He continues to be free while awaiting trial.

The case has spurred a debate over lax regulation of the state's medical marijuana industry.

Maine’s top marijuana regulator acknowledged this month that the state has few tools to prevent medical marijuana from being sold on the black market. The office proposed a “seed-to-sale” tracking system as part of a larger attempt to regulate the medical marijuana industry but those rules were rejected by lawmakers.