Medical pot & Ken Weaver: How did plane-stealing ex-con get on state MMJ committee?

For its new Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment selected Ken Weaver, subject of this week's "Blowing Smoke." It's the latest item on a résumé that includes going to prison for stealing a plane and making up a fake life -- but CDPHE apparently didn't know that part of his story. Weaver skipped over his past on a committee application obtained by Westword -- and listed a current job that doesn't seem to exist.

Weaver did not return repeated phone messages. But in his application to the state, he noted that he's a survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma and "has been involved with various industry segments throughout his career." According to the bio he provided, that included working for construction management companies, a telecommunications concern and "additional utility elements."

Nowhere does he note that from 2006 until 2009, he owned Freedom Power, a Texas electricity company known for racking up the highest number of consumer complaints in the state; that he amassed a fortune and raced in NASCAR; or that he made up a fantastic background for himself, including imaginary college degrees, false football exploits and bogus construction executive jobs.

In reality, Weaver was a college dropout who'd spent time in prison for stealing cars, as well as a single-engine Cessna. When authorities found the Cessna in South Texas in 1986, it was filled money, a rifle, a set of scales and maps of Mexican ranch airstrips.

When Dallas Morning News reporters confronted Weaver about his past in the summer of 2009, he sold his shares of the power company and was quoted as saying, "My real instinct right now is to go hide under a rock." On October 1, 2009, four days before the Dallas Morning News story hit the stands, Michelle Piwonski, a woman who'd shared an address with Weaver in Dallas, had filed incorporation papers in Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Farmacy, a company that now has three Denver locations.

In several phone interviews last week, Piwonski insisted Weaver wasn't associated with the Farmacy. "He's not on any licenses, nothing," she said. "He is just a patient advocate." But Weaver's committee application includes Piwonski as a reference. Also listed: Tom Lewis, a man who works at one of the Farmacy locations.

If Weaver isn't associated with the Farmacy, what exactly is he doing? According to his application, he's the regional sales manager for "PCI, Inc.," a company that builds and sells parts used in the automotive aftermarket industry and in oil-field services. The number he listed on his application for PCI, Inc., however, is his personal number -- a number that also appears on a series of recent Denver Craigslist ads hawking "Top quality meds at low prices" and marijuana strains such as NYC Diesel, OG Kush and Orange Glory.

PCI, Inc. may refer to Pollution Control Industries, Inc., a Minnesota-based company that sells aftermarket automotive parts. But Mary Imgrund, PCI, Inc.'s self-described "administrative goddess," says over the phone, "We don't have a Denver office. We don't have any offsite sales people at all... I've been here 20 years, and I don't know who this joker is."

A call to another "PCI, Inc." -- Pollution Control Installations in Ontario, Canada -- also confirmed that no one named Ken Weaver has ever worked there.

For PCI, Inc.'s Denver address, Weaver listed 820 South Monaco Parkway, Suite 162. But neither that suite number nor any other professional offices exist at that address. It's a strip mall featuring a UPS store, a Chipotle restaurant and an optical business.

When asked about Weaver's application, CDPHE spokesperson Mark Salley says, "We don't do background checks for individuals serving on advisory boards," reiterating a CDPHE statement given to Westword last week. He added, however, that "if we did an investigation and determined that information on an application was falsified, that certainly could affect someone's standing as to whether or not the individual would serve on the committee. We would have to look into that."

A decision on the matter may come soon. The first meeting of the Medical Marijuana Registry Advisory Committee, which is open to the public, is scheduled for tomorrow, July 29, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Sabin Conference Room at CDPHE's offices, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver.

No word yet as to whether Weaver will attend.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner