Marijuana lawsuit targets Colorado businessman’s Illinois expansion

CHICAGO — A colorful Denver businessman and city council candidate schemed to monopolize the new medical marijuana industry in Illinois, according to a lawsuit that has joined a parade of legal challenges from competing marijuana business applicants in the state.

Medponics Illinois filed the lawsuit Monday in Lake County. It claims Kayvan Khalatbari (KAY’-vohn Kahl-aht-BAR’-ee) and his Denver companies have controlling interests in more than three Illinois cultivation centers.

If true, that would violate Illinois regulations. But some industry insiders say Khalatbari has played by the rules and, while he’s an owner in one Illinois company, he’s merely a contract consultant for another — a much lower level of involvement.

“That’s not gaming the system. That’s staying within the letter of the law,” said Kris Krane, a cannabis consultant who is familiar with the Illinois industry and is not involved in the lawsuit.

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