Montel, Others Vie for Oakland Pot Permits

Plus Go the F*ck to Sleep author releases It's Just a Plant in hardcover.

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 currently has four regulated pot clubs. On December 5, the city posted to its website ten finalists for the additional dispensary 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.

Abatin Wellness Center is a Montel Williams project. The former TV and radio star works with a club by the same name in Sacramento.

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 is embroiled in at least four civil suits. His companies also have at least four small claims filed against them, and according to the Alameda County Recorder, his properties have at least 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.

Mann’s ex-partner Derek Peterson also is 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 alleging he accepted illegally issued, unrestricted securities that he and others re-sold for about $1.2 million. Peterson said he didn’t know the shares were issued illegally, and did not profit from them.

Oakland landowner Jeff Wilcox founded Agramed when he was lobbying the city to approve mega-farm permits. He also worked on Proposition 19.

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. 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, Carlos’ wife, emailed Legalization Nation to say: “Terra Linda Development has not applied for any medical cannabis permits.”

Green Light District is registered to a Pleasant Hill company by attorney Tim Flaherty, of Morris Polich & Purdy in 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 Mickey Martin, an applicant consultant and Oakland activist. 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.” They appear to be prominent clubs from San Jose and Sacramento.

Twelve initial applications were narrowed to ten by a scoring process. Public hearings for the applicants begin on January 4.

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 24 permitted dispensaries.

The federal crackdown on medical marijuana enterprises is a major concern during this licensing round. 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 Coffeeshop Blue Sky to move.

Prior to the crackdown, about 150 groups were thought to have been interested in opening a new Oakland club. Post-crackdown, just twelve dared apply. Many finalists have long sought opportunities to sell pot legally in Oakland. They may soon have one, just in time to become international martyrs in an escalating war on drugs.

Seeds & Stems

Hot off his massive 2011 hit Go the F*ck to Sleep, children’s book author/illustrator Ricardo Cortes has released a first-ever hardcover edition of his 2005 children’s pot book It’s Just a Plant. No, it doesn’t encourage kids to smoke pot. It’s an informative story about the plant in children’s book format with quirky, cool art — perfect for curious adults, as well as parents braving that discussion for the first time.

Musician David Crosby provides a blurb: “I do really wish that I had known about this book, and had given a copy to my son, long before I got busted. CNN is not the best way for your kid to find out. … It was very hard on him and on my wife who had to explain it. Fortunately I have a genuine medical use for it and the paperwork to match. … It gave her a place to start but the book would have been better by far.”

In the story, a kid name Jackie catches her parents smoking reefer. So Jackie’s parents take her to meet a farmer, a doctor, a cop, and others to gain some perspective on one of mankind’s oldest and most widely used medicines.

It’s Just a Plant also covers prohibition history and drug law reform and the author notes that pot arrests have skyrocketed without a drop in the drug’s availability or use. “The current model of prohibition is not working,” Cortes writes in the book.


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