LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation this week into the legal cannabis start-up Vibetenders amongst wide-ranging accusations of fraud.
“We were flagged by a lawsuit brought against Vibetenders that’s turned into a class action,” said lead investigator Mark Faulkner at a press conference yesterday. “Our lead plaintiff is a man suckered in by promises of ‘free cannabis’ and ‘exponential profits,’ so he signed up for their service, and found himself carrying over $30,000 in debt to Vibetenders after he ran out of friends and family members to whom he could sell their ‘High Frequency’ package, and is now living out of his car and fighting to keep his job at the SEC. Two things we know for sure: this could happen to anyone, and is definitely not an embarrassing thing for an SEC investigator to fall for, at all, so stop asking.”
Unsurprisingly, the Vibetenders team disagrees with the accusations.
“It’s really sad how cynical some people are,” said Vibetenders CEO Josh Lundstrom, Jr., bouncing on a yoga ball repurposed as a desk chair. “All we want is to offer our customers more than the boring old system of, ‘I pay you, you give me a thing.’ We’re trying to build a community here.”
“Most of our competitors simply sell some form of cannabis. But at Vibetenders, we’re different. We see cannabis as a cultural movement — we call it the Vibearchy — and our customers want to feel like a part of it,” Lundstrom Jr. added. “We work hard to reward our early investors in the movement, who earn more when we send them some extra and they get their friends involved, and so on. All we ask is for a small contribution per sale: that way the community stays thriving, the products improve, and everyone benefits. It’s worked great so far, until we were prosecuted for being a cannabis business thinking ‘outside the bowl.’ Some of my friends think I have a right to feel a lot more hurt by this, but I’m trying not to let this affect my positivity.”
“Well, shit,” exclaimed Lundstrom’s father, Josh Lundstrom Sr., a retired Los Angeles County Prosecutor and principal investor in his son’s cannabis business. “That’s definitely a pyramid scheme.”
“What was the point of me bribing all those cops to forget all those DUIs? Why did I tell his gym teacher I’d ‘eat her career for an early dinner, and shit it out before bed’ if she told anyone about the weed she found in [Josh Jr.’s] locker?” Lundstrom Sr. asked, gnawing on a half-smoked cigar. “This is the last straw — no more bailouts. He’s on his own this time.”
Deirdre Jimenez, who was involved with Vibetenders for about a month, claimed that the system seemed to work well initially.
“First week or so, it was great. I was basically smoking for free and paying for what I used by selling the extra,” explained Jimenez as she parked an electric scooter. “But then I started to wonder: if everybody is just smoking for free, how is this sustainable? Also, why does this remind me of that movie about 50 Cent’s life? When I saw my directive for October was to hit up my grandmother’s nursing home for clients, I had to duck out.”
While the SEC has frozen Vibetenders’ business, Lundstrom Jr. is working on his next venture of building off-shore duty-free liquor stores throughout the Florida Keys.
Noah Leavy is a satire and comedy writer living near Washington, D.C.
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