by David Downs
Four California US Attorneys may be at war with the sick and dying, but Oakland is advancing on its path to license four new medical cannabis dispensaries. Oakland has four regulated clubs. On Monday the city posted to its website ten finalists for four more club permits. They are: Oakland Community Collective; G8 Medical Alliance, Inc.; Tidewater Patients Group; AMCD, Inc.; Agramed; East Bay Conscious Collective; South Bay Apothecary Collective; Magnolia Wellness Inc.; Abatin Wellness Center of Oakland; and Green Light District. Public hearings begin in January.
More on what we know after the jump.
Filings with the California Secretary of State show G8 Medical Alliance Inc. is the latest venture from young Oakland hydroponics salesman Dhar Mann of WeGrow. Alameda County courthouse records show Mann embroiled in four civil suits. His companies also have four small claims filed against them, and according to the Alameda County Recorder, his properties have seven liens on them from the City of Oakland for unpaid trash fees. We reported on Mann's break-up with partner Derek Peterson earlier this year.
According to the Secretary of State, Tidewater Patients Group was registered as a business entity by Laura Blair of 19 Embarcadero Cove, Oakland. A Laura Blair is an attorney for Terra Linda Developers at 19 Embarcadero Cove, Oakland. Terra Linda's president is longtime City Hall lobbyist Carlos Plazola, who also has been involved in a controversial Tidewater area land deal. Monica Plazola emailed us to say: "Terra Linda Development has not applied for any medical cannabis permits."
Mann's estranged ex-partner Derek Peterson is also on the hunt for a permit. He has a "minor" role in Oakland Community Collective, which is being directed by Salwa Ibrahim - an Oaksterdam employee. Peterson is currently named as a defendant in a separate Delaware bankruptcy court complaint (.pdf) alleging he accepted illegally-issued, unrestricted securities which he and others re-sold for about $1.2 million. Peterson said he didn't know they were issued illegally, and did not profit from them.
Abatin Wellness Center is a Montel Williams project, said Mickey Martin, an applicant consultant and Oakland activist. Williams works with a club by the same name in Sacramento. Green Light District is registered to a Pleasant Hill, CA. company by attorney Tim Flaherty, of Morris Polich and Purdy, San Francisco. There's a Green Light District pot club in Torrance.
AMCD, Inc. is an Oakland collective that lost its dispensary permit before 2005, said Martin. Harborside Health Center received AMCD's lost permit, Martin said.
The California Secretary of State has no business record for companies named either "South Bay Apothecary Collective" or "Magnolia Wellness, Inc." Martin said they were clubs from San Jose and Sacramento.
Twelve initial applications were narrowed to ten by a scoring process. Public hearings for the applicants begin January 4, 2012 at 10 a.m.
The City of Oakland took in $420,000 in dispensary business taxes and an estimated $320,000 in marijuana sales taxes in 2010, according to city officials. Oakland has about 390,000 people in it and four operating storefront collectives. By contrast, San Francisco, has a population of about 800,000 and 29 dispensaries.
Surrounding this entire process is the federal crackdown on medical marijuana enterprises. Most dispensaries in San Diego and Sacramento County have closed. US Attorney Melinda Haag also closed three permitted clubs in San Francisco by threatening their landlords with property forfeiture. Haag could take similar actions against any and all of the Oakland applicants, as well as existing dispensaries, and she's already forced Coffeshop Blue Sky to move.
About 150 applicants were thought to be interested in opening a club prior to the crackdown, Peterson said. Post-crackdown, just twelve dared apply. Many are groups that have long sought an opportunity to sell pot legally in Oakland. They may soon have a permit to do so, just in time to become international martyrs in an escalating war on pot.