Posts Tagged ‘latanya linzie’
Cannabis Warrior Mickey Martin: So last week Oakland named the top ten finalists for their medical cannabis RFPA permitting process and the names at the top of the list read like they were scored according to campaign contributions, no doubt. The odd part is there are some very well connected people with a hell of a lot to lose near the top of the list, and it begs to wonder if any are having second thoughts after the onslaught of news regarding asset forfeiture and criminal charges relating to the recent crackdown of the medical cannabis industry. I have to wonder why some of these rich folks and ex-city officials would risk their fortunes and careers to sell weed in Oakland? Add to that the attention of the Weed Wars, and it would seem that there is a magnifying glass on Oakland cannabis these days, and all of these folks are bound to end up on front street as contenders to be the next Stevie-D in Oakland’s wild world of medical cannabis.
It is one thing to submit an application, and use your finances and connections to push your application through the City. It is an entirely different thing to open the doors and actually break Federal law and risk decades in prison to run a retail store that happens to sell cannabis. It is a sticky-wicket for sure and the jury is still out in Oakland, but we are just weeks away from the City choosing the final four. After that these folks will either have to shit or get off the pot. It is time to break Federal law and risk everything in a game we in the industry like to call “Who wants to not be a millionaire but risk everything for a non-profit salary?” I know my place in the world. I am an outlaw. I will work in the medical cannabis industry through thick and thin and will stand in the face of agression to fight for what I believe in. But even I, after armed gunmen stormed my castle and decimated my life with fear and threats of decades in prison, am weary about being out front on a major project in this day and age with all that is happening. So it begs to wonder if all of the folks who committed to opening a state of the art dispensary in Oakland, investing heavily in an unknown market, and risking their freedom and fortune, actually have the juice to pull it off. We shall see….
So here is a breakdown of the top ten applicants so far, their locations, and their board members as reported on the City of Oakland website:
1.) Oakland Community Collective- (2101 Broadway): The Board consists of some well-known faces in medical cannabis, most notably Salwa Ibrahim of Oaksterdam (General manager) who has helped Richard Lee to be a success in his ventures for many years. Also involved is Derek Peterson (CFO), the owner of GrowOp Technologies and former partner of Dhar Mann at WeGrow. Also listed on the Board is Latanya Linzie (Member Manager), and administrator at Oaksterdam University. It would seem that this group is well aware of the risks going in, but Derek Peterson recently had a child and there has to be some concern there. As with any of us who have kids in this industry, as people like Bryan Epis sit in prison today serving out decade long prison terms watching their kids grow up in a prison visiting room, it is a big commitment to make and a big risk to take by any measure. I can vouch firsthand that this is always a factor in weighing one’s decision to sell cannabis openly in this legal and political climate.
Their facility is an old bank building on Broadway directly across from the Paramount. It is a nice building, but is listed as outside of the preferred “allowable area” on the City’s map.
2.) G8 Medical Alliance, Inc.- (7o Hegenberger Loop): The most telling thing about this Board of Directors is not who IS on it, but who is not. The location is owned by the family of Dhar Mann called Mann Edge Properties. It is the same building where WeGrow once was and Dhar Mann has stated his desire to have an Oakland permit in the press repeatedly; but he is not listed as a Board Member on this project for some reason. Why? Is this a shadow Board of Directors? Are we supposed to believe that somehow this organization has no ties to self-proclaimed “potrepeneur” Dhar Mann, while renting his space and being headed by folks who have been directly involved with him for years? I am not falling for it, and believe the Oakland City Council should investigate this relationship further, as it is obvious they are being bamboozled.
The Board is supposedly headed by Toni Mims-Cochran, a local attorney who seems to work with eviction law a lot and has represented Dhar Mann in the past. Normally lawyers steer clear of sitting on Boards of dispensaries because any legal action can result in them losing their State Bar credentials. Also on the Board is former City Council member and attorney Leo Bazille, who was also University Chancelor for Dhar Mann’s now defunct wannabe Oaksterdam called Unicann. Also on the Board in Ekundayo Sowumni, listed as the President of Ackland Realty in Oakland, as well as Joel Elliott who I believe is with Priority Focus Security Group, LLC out of Oakland. Another Board member, which shows clearly that this is indeed a Dhar mann project, is Ariana Patino who is listed as a real estate agent for Mann Edge properties and is Dhar’s assistant. Another member listed is Aaron Goodwin, which is famed sports agent and local Oaklander Aaron Goodwin who was once shot by Oakland police, and is apparently best friends with Oakland City Councilperson Desley Brooks, who also is a “big fan” of Dhar Mann you might say. If you look up www.re-electbrooks.com the registrant is… who else? Dhar Mann. Was this disclosed as a campaign contribution?
The biq question is, “Why are all of these people willing to stand out front and catch the arrows for Dhar Mann?” It is a huge risk to take and it is obvious that the entire Board is just a front for the Dhar Mann WeGrow empire.
The building, as noted, is the old WeGrow location that did not make it. It is located just a stone’s throw from Lighthouse Community Charter school, which begs to wonder how they too expect to overcome the wrath of Melinda Haag and her strict no schools or playgrounds policy. Does the family owned MannEdge Properties know that they could possibly lose this building, like has recently happened in Fairfax and other parts of the state? Who knows? What is obvious is that something is rotten in Oakland if they cannot see through the shadow Board of this organization and their obvious links to Mann who is mysteriously missing from the application.
3.) Tidewater Patients Group- (4709 Tidewater Ave.): This is another one of those situations that begs to wonder what is actually going on. It is well-known that Terra Linda Development President, Carlos Plazola, is directly involved with this project, yet he is not listed as a Board member. Instead, a real estate agent named Bill Koziol is listed as the President of Tidewater Patients Group. Alexis Parle is listed as the managing member, who is unknown. Also listed as Board members are David Koziol (unconfirmed: google shows this name at Marin Monument a cemetery stone maker from San Rafael), Jay Dodson found as the owner of Mestizo Construction (who coincidentally is co-listed on several projects with Terra Linda Development), and Michael Stewart who conveniently sits on the Board of the Oakland Builder’s Alliance with Carlos Plazola). So what it seems we have here is another group seemingly unfamiliar with the medical cannabis industry looking to risk all of those bold credentials at a shot of fame and fortune in the outlaw world of medical marijuana. God Bless them…..If I had all of that to risk, chances are I would stick with what I know and not gamble on this unknown industry, but heck, what do I know anyway?
The facility is down on the industrial Tidewater Avenue, off of High Street and the 880. It is not a very desirable area for patients to travel to for their medicine and the building is listed as a warehouse facility. Good thing all those developers are on board to make it happen. It is just mysterious why there is a most definite connection to Mr. Plazola here, but no mention of him in the application.
4.) AMCD, Inc.- (578 W. Grand Avenue): This is a group that once had a permit in Oakland and blew it for illegally dispensing in Oakland and failing to meet building codes. Their permit was then awarded to Steve D’Angelo and Harborside and the rest is history. When they were open, vendors were outraged as they seemingly owed every grower in the movement and refused to pay them. People literally used to throw eggs at their place repeatedly. Also, when turning in his application, Executive Director Carl Anderson did not have his check with just minutes before the 4 pm deadline, so it is questionable how he was able to get to a bank and get a cashiers check issued and turned into the city on time. An exception had to have been made and I know more than one organization that will be appealing based on this should they be granted a permit.
As stated, the Executive Director is listed as Carl Anderson and his son Forrest is also listed on the Board. These folks already have a bad reputation in the industry, but have spent the years since being shut down greasing the wheels at City Hall and enlisting anyone and everyone on their Board to legitimize their efforts. Chairman of their Board is Minnie Watson, also on the original Board of the organization when it was shut down by the city. Their Vice President is Geri Murphy, a licensed psychologist who is risking her career to dispense medical cannabis. Also listed is George Iaconis, a person who has operated his own security company for 30 years and is now venturing into the industry (although he is not listed on their website). David King is listed as an information officer and from his experience with Cisco systems is managing the IT aspects of the operation. Rounding it out is Kisha Jackson, the California Director of the NAACP, who is entering the outlaw world of medical cannabis as the “Executive Spokesperson.” Who IS listed on their website as a Board Member and who I believe took their test, but is not mentioned on the application as such, is Hank Levy CPA, who has several clients in the industry.
Their location is the same location they previously operated out of at 578 West Grand. It is not in the preferred allowable zone of the city, likely because of its proximity to New Day Pre-School and Learning Center just a few blocks away. Word is that they were so sure of their getting this permit that they have already built out the entire facility. They are so sure that they will get it that they do not even have to bother to turn in their check on time. Must be nice.
5.) Agramed- (1820 Embacadero): Agramed’s sole listed Board member is Jeffrey Wilcox, who gained recognition in the industry for putting forward the “mega-grow” program that was interfered with by the Federal government in writing the first of many letters to municipalities warning of their desire to be involved in cannabis business. More info on that can be found in my article entitled “Why is Jeff Wilcox such a prick?” What is crazy is that Jeff Wilcox is continuing to pursue this permit as a sole incorporator, and is risking quite a vast fortune that he made when selling his construction company. He has three teenage children, who he claims are his reason for getting into this business, but it is unclear if they are aware of the great risk their dad is taking with the family fortune and property. It is people like Jeff Wilcox, with so much to lose, that would make a seemingly huge target for Federtal enforcement. If he is running a dispensary out of a property he owns then it is a slam dunk for asset forfeiture if they press criminal charges ever. Besides him being such a gigantic asshole, it begs to wonder why he is attempting to enter an industry with so many questions in order to make a measly non-profit salary.
His location is a plot of land near Harborside at 1820 Embarcadero, which should be interesting should he get the permit. It is literally right next door. It is also near Beacon Day School and is not in the preferred allowable zone as listed on the City’s mapping. It begs to wonder why a person with zero experience in dispensing cannabis would want to take such bold risks with his freedom and property, but I suppose some people get a Camaro for their mid-life crisis and others get a dispensary.
6.) East Bay Conscious Collective- (1155 3rd St.): This is a group spearheaded by members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the drag queen nuns charity group. How fun would it be to have these folks running a dispensary in Oakland? Yay! Edward Huser, aka Sister Barbi Mitzvah, is listed on the application as the CFO. He is joined by Eric Wesson (manager) and Nick Davis (manager). Board Members John Anderson and Jon David Petras (owner of Cafe Flore in San Francisco) are also listed on the city’s website.
Their facility is on 3rd and Adeline near the Port of Oakland in the same building as Nellie’s Soul Food. The space is a two story office building and is in the allowable zone.
7.) South Bay Apothecary Collective- (9821 Kitty Lane): Why ever would a group applying in Oakland use the name of their San Jose location called “South Bay Apothecary Collective” in the East Bay? But that is their call. Their facility in San Jose is a quiet one amongst 100+ and it would seem they are looking for greener pastures in Oakland. Their Director is listed as Johnny Nguyen and Steve Vinhm is listed as their manager. Kiet Tran is listed as in charge of “collective development.” The group’s person of service on the Secretary of State website is Vanessa Quan. This group is not very active in the cannabis scene overall, and even though they have been in business since November of 2009 (right after the Ogden memo), they have made little impact in the industry. Most asked had never heard of them.
Their facility is located off of 98th Ave on the Kitty Lane and seems to be in an allowable zone. They do not currently test their medicine in San Jose, so it will be interesting to see what they wrote in their application for testing in Oakland. If they list that they will be testing medicine it begs to wonder why they do not do that now? The facility is a 6000 sq. ft. warehouse building, that will need to be built out, so if nothing else they are well-financed. I looked at this building for a grow site for a client and the landlord was not interested in a cannabis business. I wonder if they purchased the site?
8.) Magnolia Wellness Inc.- (3421 Telegraph Ave.): This is a group who has made its name providing medicine to patients in the Sacramento area since 2009. They won best booth at last year’s HT medical cup in San Francisco and were listed as the “Best Compassion” program by Sacramento News and Review’s Best of Sacramento 2011. Executive Director David Spradlin is originally from the East Bay. He is joined by local Oakland business owner Harold Rogers, and Community organizer Eli Austin. Steep Hill CEO AnnaRae Grabstein is also an advisor on the Board.
Their facility is located at 34th and Telegraph in a mixed use commercial building. It is located near Grove Shafter park, as a sensitive use. Grove Shafter is a rundown park under the freeway interchange and is home to a lof of criminal activity. The group hopes to turn a large portion of it in to a community garden that provides food to the community according to their director. Magnolia Wellness is one of the most popular collectives in the Sacramento area and it will beg to see if they can bring that reputation for quality and compassion to Oakland.
9.) Abatin Wellness Center of Oakland- (8440 Enterprise Way): This is the project of my friend and yours, TV Celebrity Montel Williams. He is the only one listed on the application, which is odd because I do not believe he is a resident of California. He is also saying he is a resident of DC in order to get a dispensary there. What is also odd is that he is listed as a “consultant” to the Abatin Group in Sacramento, as they renamed another collective; and on this Abatin Wellness he is listed as the President. Huh? So he is not the President in Sac but is in Oakland? And it begs to wonder why his partner in Sacramento, well-known activist Aundre Speciale, is not listed on the Oakland application either? Also it is reported that Americans for Safe Access Director Don Duncan took the test for him, which is supposed to be done by a “member applicant” according to the City’s RFPA request and ordinance, yet Montel is the only one listed as an applicant.
The facility is down off of Hegenberger and was a former landscaping company. It is in the allowable zone, which begs to wonder why their application is ranked so low?
10.) Green Light District- (721 98th Ave.): Listed as “co-owners,” Brian Basillo and Jaysen Jacinto are the main applicants. The person of service for their corporation is Timothy Flaherty, a lawyer from Pleasant Hill and planning commissioner there. According to the google Jacincto seems to work or have worked with Telekenex and is in the telecommunications game. There are several listings for Brian Basillo, but there is a local one who used to work for AT&T.
Their facility seems to be a house on 98th Avenue, but it is hard to tell on Google maps. This address was reportedly a house for sale for $185,000 at one time according to a real estate website.
So there we have it folks…..the TOP 10 Candidates for opening a dispensary in Oakland. Read them and weep. It is amazing to me that after all that has happened that there are even 10 people left in the race. There is a lot of heat out there, and the unsurity of this industry is at an all time high. It is clear that some of these big wheels are willing to risk it all, and I can appreciate that. As I go over the list and understand how these applicants have given (or not given) to many City officials causes and campaigns, it is hard for me not to think things are rigged. What is clear is that if some of these applicants (or shadow applicant organizations) do indeed get the permit, there could be a lot of investigation and questioning of the entire application process. Only time will tell. Maybe all of them will throw up their hands and walk away, as the Feds continue to escalate the war on providers and their property. I wonder if some of these folks understand the risks involved and know clearly what the potential hazards of having a leading role in a cannabis dispensing organization really are. As a person who had his life turned upside down and was threatened with decades in prison just for making medicated foods, I know firsthand the real dangers of being in the cannabis industry. It is just hopeful that the leadership for all of these organizations has taken the time to explain the situation and has been honest with everyone involved. Anything less would just be sad.
So in about a month there will be public hearings, which should be exciting for sure. From here on out it is a pants-off dance-off and it is anyone’s guess who will actually open a dispensary in Oakland next year. The only thing for certain is that whoever gets the permits better bring their A-game because the competition level will surely be at an all time high….