The Truth About Aundre Speciale

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I have avoided writing this story because the last time I wrote a piece about Aundre and her partners in crime in 2012 I was mysteriously attacked and my family was threatened right afterwards. It was 2012, in the thick of the Oakland permitting process, and I wrote a piece about her and her buddy Montel Williams scamming people who she owed money to and lying to Oakland officials to get the open permit there. The piece was called “Why Montel Williams is Bad for Weed.” It was one of the last pieces I wrote on my old blog Cannabis Warrior, which I shut down after these fucks followed my wife and took pictures of her dropping my kids off at school, complete with a poorly worded threat to my family that was mailed to me fro Juarez, Mexico under the guise of a Mexican cartel.

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This letter was the third attack on me for my story. First I came out one morning to my tires being slashed. Shortly after that happened, Aundre called one of my good friends because she “wanted to talk before things got any uglier.” It was an odd message to receive from the person who delivered it, as there was no connection beyond him just being my friend. We had never discussed this person or had any dialogue about one another over the years. It was just out of the blue… a phone call. “Aundre Speciale called me. She said she wanted to talk to you before things got any uglier.” I told him to tell her to go fuck herself because she was a thief and unethical lying bitch. We will get into those details shortly.

About a week after that I was leaving a dispensary I frequent in Sacramento when an older white biker looking guy walked right up to the window of my car on a hot summer day and sprayed me point blank with pepper spray. The fuck nailed me right as I was lighting a cigarette and filled my face and the rest of my car up with his toxic spray. Hardly able to see, I took off into the middle of a busy street and was able to pull off on a side road before I got into a major accident. I then crept down the side roads to a nearby hotel and got them to give me a bunch of milk to wash my face and called some local friends to come help me. I had been physically assaulted in public over this shit. It all began to make sense now.

About 10 days later is when I received the letters above threatening my family. My wife was incredibly spooked and she begged me to take my blog down… so I did. CannabisWarrior.com disappeared, I removed myself from Facebook and other social media, and I laid low for several months. I eventually found the courage to start this blog, but you will notice to this day my name is still not directly on it. That was by design. Of course people figured out my writing style and that it was me, and I eventually came out of hiding. It was an incredibly traumatic time for my family, and I am still incredibly angry about it to this day.

So how did it all begin?

Flashback to 2009 after I was sentenced by the Feds for operating Tainted Inc. Aundre was operating Capitol Wellness in Sacramento, and decided she wanted to “help” me out. She donated $2,500 to me when I was struggling, which she would later expect me to give her free bounce houses and snow-cone machines for her lavish parties, as I operated a party rental company at the time. She is a manipulative bitch who tried to hold her lousy donation over my head, as she loves to pretend how altruistic she is and will donate money to people and causes to win their friendship and loyalty. She still does this to this day, and it is a ruse at best. Her sole reason for doing these types of things is to say “See what a good person I am.” Don’t believe the hype.

She then hired me to do some work for her new facility in Sacramento. We remodeled and furnished her new location and I began to help her develop sound business practices, as she accused all of her staff of stealing from her and that she was losing money. So we developed inventory control protocols and cash tracking systems to help manage the business side of the matter. At the time, she was only paying me half of what she owed, with the big promise that she would repay me everything after she was able to open her Berkeley location CBCB, which she had gotten a permit to operate by conning  the cash strapped previous owners.  I appreciated the work, and was happy to be able to at least pay some bills with the promise of getting paid the rest down the road.

Her and her partner at the time operated Capitol Wellness with reckless abandon. They took advantage of people who brought in weed, taking out loan after loan from these hard working growers and producers in the form of consignment. She racked up literally HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS in debt from people who were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and leave product with her. She consistently took money out of the business to fund her lavish lifestyle, pay for her house, and to travel partying from one festival to the next party, claiming her madness was all one big business expense.

Now Aundre on the face is a likable person. She can act very kind and sweet when she wants to, and is amazing at manipulating people. She can turn on the crying any moment she wants to elicit an emotional response. She continued to rob Peter to pay Paul and gave sob stories to the many people she had taken advantage of, while she spent their money on molley and partying like a rockstar. There were literally so many people, including her staff, who she owed money too that it became impossible to give her the benefit of the doubt any longer.

We began working at the Berkeley facility doing the build out there… unpermitted of course. We built the walls, painted the place and installed the flooring that you see there today. At this time Aundre began to really be spread thin, and was running out of lies to tell people about why she didn’t have their money. She continued to beg, borrow, and steal from anyone and everyone to continue her party and try to open the Berkeley spot. At this time she began to not even pay us half of what she owed. She expected us to work for free on promises of being paid after it opened. I pulled out of the project halfway through the floor installation, and a couple of the guys I was working with ended up finishing it off and never getting paid for their work. She then hired another contractor to do a bunch of work, who she never paid either. At the time I left we were owed well over $20k. I know the other contractor did a bunch of HVAC work and other major configuration which he is still owed about $50k to this day.

We had written off the money, knowing she was no good for it; but then entered Montel Williams.

In June of 2011 it was announced that a group headed up by talk show host Montel Williams had taken over Capitol Wellness from Aundre and had remodelled their facility to rebrand it as Abatin Wellness, the name it still holds today in Sacramento. They had spent a lot of money to remodel the place and rolled it out as some God’s gift to medical marijuana. Here is a news piece he did at the time touting Abatin as a new model that was better than all the stupid hippie pot shops… they since have had to rethink their business model, as it failed miserably.

Now after Montel decided to go all over the press bragging about his facelift to the organization and his role as a “consultant” I was contacted by these two little old ladies who were owed $8,500 from Aundre. They said they had contacted Montel directly and he replied to them they better delete his phone number or he will sick the police on them. Nice guy, right? These were two seniors on a fixed income who desperately needed that money, as they counted on it to supplement their incomes. I agreed to help them organize a protest, and wrote a damning press release and began rallying the troops. The night before the protest the word got out to them and Abatin contacted the ladies and agreed to pay them what was owed in exchange for them signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement. We decided to do the protest anyway without them, as there were many people owed money by her that needed a voice.

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Below is the Press Release that went out:

For Immediate Release:

Montel Williams medical cannabis dispensary owes tens of thousands of dollars to member providers and contractors and refuses to pay their past debts. A protest has been organized by outraged vendors, including two senior citizens who live on fixed incomes and have been greatly affected by their unwillingness to pay their bills.

(Patients and concerned citizens will gather in protest on Friday, June 17 at noon at Abatin Wellness (29th & U) to express their frustrations.)

By: Concerned citizens and hard-working people that Abatin Wellness (formerly Capitol Wellness) have defaulted payment to for goods and services provided. We will be joined by some who question the integrity of an organization that would spend tens of thousands of dollars on facility upgrades, when they owe hundreds of people in the community for their hard work, and have seemingly circumvented the Sacramento ordinance that regulates medical cannabis dispensaries.

• On Monday, June 13th Montel Williams held a press conference declaring his leading role in the newly renovated and renamed Abatin Wellness Center, stating he would be “involved at every level of the cooperative, from the philosophical direction, down to the blueprints.” He apparently does not think that financials are included in “everything,” as his management group has failed to do the right thing.

• Capitol Wellness Center (CWC) is Sacramento’s oldest remaining dispensary and over the past couple of years have mounted hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to mismanagement.

• When the new partnership was formed with the “Abatin” group there has been an effort to intimidate and mislead people that are owed money by CWC, using bankruptcy laws and threats of disclosure to discourage people from demanding payment. These underhanded tactics have left many in the community questioning the validity and decency of the new “ownership.”

• The City of Sacramento has laid out a clear ordinance regulating the operations and application process for dispensaries, and it seems this group is circumventing the process in several ways, including being closed for more than 30 days and transferring ownership through back door deals.

WHAT:  A peaceful protest of Motel William’s and his new “partnership” at Abatin Wellness Center for their lack of integrity, honesty, transparency, and decency. An action to bring awareness to the unsavory business practice happening with the new “ownership” of Abatin, formerly Capitol Wellness Center. A demonstration to demand that the City look deeper into the apparent takeover of a once humble and independently operated dispensing collective by an apparent investment group associated with Mr. Williams, who now is paid a consulting fee for his endorsement of this dispensary; we question how they cannot afford to pay what is owed by the collective but they can afford to pay Montel Williams.

WHO: A group of patients, providers and contractors who are concerned about the business practices of Abatin Wellness Center and their inability to pay their debts to honest and hard-working people, including two senior citizens who live on fixed income and have been greatly affected by Capitol Wellness’ defaulting on what they are owed. People directly affected by the apparent take-over and failure to pay by a group associated with TV celebrity Montel Williams.  Other concerned citizens that question the legal ability of this group to circumvent local laws, and use a paid celebrity to gain competitive advantage.

WHERE:  Abatin Wellness Center (formerly CWC) – 2900 U St., Sacramento CA

WHEN:  Friday, June 17th at 12:00 p.m. (Noon)

WHY: To confront the new “ownership” and question their reasoning for not assuming the debt of the corporation upon ownership transfer. Because patients, providers and those who are owed money by this organization deserve to be paid in full BEFORE hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on renovations, upgrades, and celebrity spokespeople. To bring awareness to a situation that has been handled poorly by the new management group, including attorney Gary Hiller. To let the community know that this group is not worthy of their income and collective resources, as they have defaulted on paying hundreds of hard working people in an already tough economy and to encourage them to go elsewhere in Sacramento for their medical cannabis services.

After the protest I was contacted by many people who Aundre owed money. While most were just story after story about people who had once trusted Aundre only to be burned by her and never paid, there was this one email that provided a lot of insight into the current takeover by Montel and his group of investors. Here is that email in its entirety:

Hey Mickey,

Thanks for getting back to me.  I will definitely be there for the next one.  One of the people i was speaking of is filing small claims on monday.  I have contacted the city attorney here as well as the city clerk that oversee’s medical cannabis.  The city attorney didn’t respond but he forwarded my email to the city clerk.  She emailed me all CBCB applications and operational standards agreements made with the city.  The commission hasn’t met at all this year but her email tonight says that they are meeting in a couple of weeks and as far as i can tell from the paper work she sent…the name on the zoning permit is still aundre’s.  I will forward to you in case you are interested…most of it not relevant material.  I may have personal evidence that information was falsified for that permit application here in Berkeley that might be compelling enough to revoke the permit.  I also know that for sac….i was touring with montel, andre, and jim (they were trying to hire me…thank GOD i made the right decision.) the first week they took controlling interest….they were in a mad dash scramble to make that 27th street location appear to be open as aundre was saying something about being in violation of the permit because the doors had been closed for months…as the employee’s looted the place because they were not being paid.  Andre was a friend, and on some level i feel bad for her but you can only say sorry and blame your previous partners so much…..  I wish nothing bad for her personally.   I witnessed her pulling cash from the tills to pay her mortgage on her personal residence, I witnessed it again when she was dolling out cash to pay an attorney to represent her suit against the FED’s for the farm bust. The employee’s claimed to have had an open tab at starry plough on her business credit card.  Meanwhile she was partying at the white house with cheech & chong and the playboy mansion on our dime!!

I don’t know if you have had any contact with Shawn Sedaghat or Jim Zaun…they are the management company and Shawn calls all the shots…I met with them last Saturday before montel flew in…this was after a compelling letter i sent to shawn…he replied that he was confident we could reach an amicable solution so i went up and wasted 6 hours of my day…they were 1 hour late…gave me the same bull shit…then claimed that in order to be fair to everyone they wanted to offer us all 1/3 of our outstanding invoices and also go back and 1099 everyone for everything they ever brought in.  3 days before my meeting another friend they owe was called in to meet jim.  jim led him to believe he wanted to meet to settle up the money owed…instead he gave BS excuses and tried to extrapulate genetic breeding info. for his CBD strain.  classy eh?   As i skimmed the paper work from the city of berkeley…which also shows that kris hermes was a partner at some point…anyway i believe i understood that there were not any tax laws in place for vendors as it was a transfer of goods and services within a collective…only tax liability were on the resale/retail side of things.

Shawn is an Iranian multi millionaire investor and he and Montel are close personal friends from the MS foundation and Montel is more than just the face guy.  Montel is heavily involved behind closed doors with shawn.  They have a 2-1 controlling interest on the internal board of directors. It’s amazing how many scams follow montel’s name…exercise equipment, toaster, juicers, fake coins, and loans…just in a five minute search last night.  I am starting to think he is a puppet for the feds.  What medicinal cannabis patient on this planet would open a dispensary that only appeals to people who would never use cannabis??? those services they claim to offer are already available at many dispensaries…the difference is patients sign up or chose them.  Shawn told me saturday that every patient is overdosing themselves on cannabis and they are going to change that.  my response was that he was overdosing daily on nicotine and coffee which have way more harmfulll effects!!  Hard to prove maybe….but Shawn had never smoke cannabis until i showed him how to use a bong…i am sure he just obtained a card so that he could make millions.  I am more concerned as a patient about the public slander of our doctors (the ones that pur their careers and reputations on the line so patients like him could even have access to the medicine) and the way they have all refered to everyone of us as drug dealers and criminals.  His right hand guy Jim boasts about being a great drug dealer in his past!!!     Montel has known the details of the outstanding debt since… like 2-3 months before they even came on board with aundre…this consulting shit they are saying is smoke and mirrors.  They are preparing to side step liability.  Shawn keeps saying they are meeting with Eric Holder and that he and montel have had this plan to roll out a nation wide model (that the feds will except) that they can then take global. Shawn own a packaging company in Italy that is closely associated with Revlon…they also own a medical packaging business on top of many other business.

This is alot of info…if you ever have the free time we should meet up for coffee.  I am in downtown berkeley.  FYI…i sent my official demand letter to shawn at his email address 48 hours ago… and have heard no response, which was expected.  I will do almost anything to get my money and help others get theirs.  I want both their operating permits revoked!!  I spoke with James Anothony about the debt 2 days ago…he didn’t want the case…but when i emailed him back asking if he was interested if i my goal was to revoke their permit….oddly enough he responded and wants me to call him asap about by goals?  Fucking attorneys…  Anyway, i will send over the info. and check with the 2 people i am in contact to get their ok to share their personal info.

This firsthand account of what was going on was too much to ignore. We began planning more protests. I was soon contacted by Aundre on Facebook in hopes of finding resolution. Here are some of those messages:

Aundre Speciale 

April 15

??? im seriously not in control over there anymore. shit got soooo bad i had to hand it over just to keep the doors open. i would love to talk face to face but the short version is from the time you and bill and kimberly and everyone left cw and he took over, not a single thing was handled and by the time i got my head outta my ass and looked at what was goin on over there, we were in sum deep shit. im so fucked myself, swear to jah i didnt get a penny outta the deal, i gotta job for now, but im lookin at filing for bankrupcy. you know me, im a fuck up but i never fucked anyone over, shit got sooo crazy i dint know how to get outta it.

Actually, what it is said that she got out of the deal was her house mortgage paid, her new VW SUV paid off, and a well-paid position as their symbolic “Executive Director.” Meanwhile the investment group had taken over operations of both Sacramento and Berkeley.

I was offered a settlement for $12,500 of what was owed to my companies, as that was what was owed to me in wages for services provided. The other folks I worked with on the project were left high and dry. I was also forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement under duress to get my money, which is completely illegal. I continued to speak out on the group and their unsavory business practices. I know of dozens of people to this day who have never been paid. The group was offering to pay people but they would have to agree to sign a 1099 and report EVERYTHING they ever brought into the dispensary, often leaving more of a tax burden than what was still owed. They used their attorneys to muscle many people into just walking away and writing off the loss as an experience in trusting shady bitches like Aundre.

Then came the Oakland RFP process for four new medical cannabis dispensaries and sure enough Montel Williams himself was the sole applicant for Abatin Wellness. I did a lot of investigative reporting on the Oakland process, getting all of the applications through a public records request and running some background checks on many questionable individuals. I was incredibly surprised by Montel’s application, as it was literally 27 pages compared to other applications ranging from 200-300 pages each. Like I said, Montel was the ONLY name listed on the application when it was submitted. It was like he truly believed he had it in the bag or something, so much he didn’t even have to really file a thorough application.

I continued to pry into the situation, and was not surprised to find out he had been warming up to Oakland City Council persons, including Rebecca Kaplan. The scores came out, and as Oakland’s process was highly suspect, four groups with close ties to Oakland public officials were initially awarded the permits. Montel’s group came in a paltry 8th out of 10 applicants.

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But notice the amazing 94 points they received on their “TEST.” You know why? Because Americans for Safe Access California Director Don Duncan took it for them. Now mind you that ONLY Montel’s name was on the application. So technically he was supposed to be the only one allowed to take the test. But his team of lawyers made the following compelling argument on why Duncan was indeed on the Board of Directors for Abatin Wellness:

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This clearly establishes that the Abatin Group, led by Montel Williams at the time and directed by Aundre Speciale, hired Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access to be on their Board of Directors and not only take their test for them, but also lobby the City on their behalf.

Months later it was revealed that this same investment group had bought out Don Duncan’s interest in his West Hollywood dispensary LAPCG, and Don moved to Sacramento full time to lobby for Americans for Safe Access. It should be noted that many of the policies ASA has lobbied for recently would seem to favor the dispensaries operated by the group through restrictive permitting and barriers to entry. You can decide if that is a coincidence or not.

While the organization came in 8th place, notice that they currently hold a license in Oakland for Phytologie. This is where it got interesting and I got attacked. One of the groups, AMCD Inc. was disqualified around the public hearing phase after it was revealed they had lied on their application.

Shortly thereafter another group, G8 Medical Alliance Inc., was disqualified for their involvement with Dhar Mann who was indicted on 13 felony counts for defrauding the City of Oakland on properties he owned and received grants for. This left one license available and open to go to the remaining group of applicants.

At this time Montel’s group hired a local Oakland attorney who had close ties to City officials to lobby on their behalf because they had a building they had purchased ready to go. They began to try to discredit other applicants through false reports of their operations and tried to undermine the other applicants to get the one available remaining permit in Oakland. It was enraging to hear about their efforts, as Aundre literally screwed over half of the industry and sold her soul to get Sacramento and Berkeley open and operating. Now she was spreading false rumors that other folks were shady? No way…

So I began to compile evidence and submitted it to the Oakland City Administrators office. I was aware that the Abatin group was filing public information requests for my communications and the City gave me the option of not submitting the evidence, as it could not be kept confidential. I submitted it anyways, as it was the right thing to do. Several other folks who she owed money to also contacted the City to tell them about her immoral business practices.

This was when my friend received the ominous phone call that Aundre wanted to talk to me before things got ugly. Shortly after all of my tires were slashed, followed by me being pepper sprayed while leaving a dispensary in Sacramento. Then I received the threats to my family pictured above. It changed my life. I was forced to remove my Cannabis Warrior blog and I lived in virtual hiding for several months. It still traumatizes my wife to this day and I have little doubt about who was behind it.

And after all that, another applicant dropped out of the race and they were awarded the permit anyways as the only remaining viable option.

I later found out that Aundre had an ex-boyfriend pull a similar stunt on her threatening her in the name of a Mexican drug cartel. This was just too much to ignore given the timing of it all, and the demand that I stay off of the internet in the letter that threatened my family.

It took me a long time to reconcile the situation and I have mostly remained quiet. My wife begged me to let it go, and for the most part I have. It was not an easy task as these fucking people actually followed my wife and kids around taking pictures of them and threatened their well-being. I wake up angry about it every day, and I have lost plenty of sleep over the last two and a half years since it happened. I live under guarded security at this time, with security systems and cameras in place at all times.

To add insult to injury, I shared these photos once on Facebook and was contacted by the FBI regarding the matter. That is right. The FBI. They were concerned for my safety. Go figure. What an interesting discussion that was.

So why bring it up now you may ask? Why put these accusations out publicly after all of this time? Why risk mine and my family’s personal safety again? What do I gain from it all? Is it worth it?

To be honest I do not fucking know. I know I have been carrying this around for the last two and a half years and very few people in my inner circle are aware of the situation. I do not think anyone is aware of it in its entirety as spelled out here. For me, it is cathartic to put it out there for the community to absorb. I would rather die with my boots on. I can no longer allow the fear for my family paralyze me. I know in my heart what happened and can no longer sit idly by without saying anything. It is not in my nature. It was only a matter of time. My reality is that I either had to write this piece or I would probably end up enacting some repressed revenge one day that would get me in a lot of trouble. I do not need that; so I decided to spell it out here in the open for all to see and let it go. This community can decide if they want to continue to allow people like this to prance around like they are some Debby Do-gooder when in all reality they are immoral fucks who have burned a lot of people and who will continue to burn more to achieve their objectives.

So as you sit there tomorrow at the International Business Conference in San Francisco watching this fraud speak on the Dispensary 5000 panel like some sort of expert, know that she a.) has no idea how to operate a dispensary; b.) fucked over innumerable people and then sold them out to fund her ventures; and c.) is a terrible person willing to be a part of unspeakable acts to further her efforts. If that is who you want to stand behind and hold up as some sort of expert, then I guess we have a different opinion of what this industry should be about. There is no room for these types of folks to have a seat at the table, no matter how innocent and sweet their manipulative ass makes them sound.

Aundre is one of several snakes that have used their connections in the community to work their way into the inner circles of the cannabis community. She is now merely a puppet like so many others who make appearances and work to bullshit their way to the top on behalf of their overlords. It disgusts me to see her wander around at events like she never ripped everyone off and everything is okay. For a lot of people out tens of thousands of dollars it is not okay. She often portrays herself as a victim, blaming anyone and everyone for the damage she caused…. and a lot of folks have bought this bullshit story hook, line, and sinker- often attached to a favor or fancy donation. It must suck to have to buy friends.

At one time I considered Aundre a good friend. I always knew she was a troubled human from the days when she tried to open a dispensary in Venice while whacked out on dope, and her strong arm maneuvers to gain total control of Capitol Wellness from her former partner; but I too bought the story for a period of time and chose to ignore the telltale signs of her fraud. That was my bad.

My hopes of retelling this tale is to create an understanding of what type of beast we are dealing with here, and the types of underhanded and aggressive tactics that are taken to silence people like myself. This is a person who cannot be trusted, and who is using her smiley face, and standing in the community, to fuck over people to benefit her investors.

If I am harmed again for speaking out then so be it. That is a chance I would have to take. The officer that responded to the threats when we initially received them told me “I know you are a convicted felon, but sometimes a person has to do what they have to do to protect their family. I am not telling you to get a firearm. I couldn’t do that, but…”; and he left it at that. He agreed that this was not the work of a cartel because they generally do not send letters. What he did say was, “Whoever you pissed off, you got very close to something.” I agreed…. and I knew who and what I had gotten close to.

I have since received even more damning evidence from upper level management that used to work for them. The whole deal is incredibly shady…. and these are the people we are advancing as experts and representatives of ethical business practices at our events? Spare me. I am over the whole fucking deal and am glad to finally have it off of my chest. Now I do not have to explain it, or sit in silence about it. It is done.

I am sure Aundre will deny every word of this, and that is okay. She has spent her entire life lying, so why would I expect any different now? I don’t. But everyone of you who know her know you have been lied to at one time or another. You have heard the stories and the tall tales. You have forgiven them as irresponsible and childish behavior. I for one disagree. I cannot forgive and forget. I will not. I can’t…. and now you know why.

Selah.

Wolves in Wook Clothing. Why ASA continues to want YOUR cake and wants to eat it too. The SB 1262 DEBACLE.

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I have been here since nearly the beginning. I unfortunately know the story all too well. I have seen the California cannabis landscape evolve at every step and have been knee deep in politics and activism across the state for many years. Which gives me a unique perspective on the proposed regulatory bill making its way through the CA Legislature known as SB-1262.

I wrote a piece detailing my issues with SB 1262 entitled “You are all criminals. Welcome to the new California. SB 1262 must die.” In this article I went over many points of major issue in the proposal that will make more criminals out of CA patients and providers, and create a liability for physicians that will ensure many less people qualify as patients. Since then most reform groups have pulled their support for this effort, but not Americans for Safe Access. They continue to cheer lead for the end of the CA cannabis community and the making criminals out of thousands of people. It is bizarre to say the least.

In May, Americans for Safe Access put out a piece encouraging its supporters to blindly follow this Bill that would make it more difficult to get their medicine and would likely make most of them out to be criminals. The article was entitled “Support SB 1262 in California.” In this article they state the following:

ASA recognized the potential in SB 1262 early in the process. We worked with the Sen. Correa and other sponsors to significantly improve the bill, and ASA was the first in the medical cannabis field to endorse it. SB 1262 is a milestone in the medical cannabis debate in the state legislature. This is the first time that the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities have not opposed medical cannabis regulations. Having these two powerful lobby organizations standing beside patients and behind a regulatory bill is unprecedented. ASA regards this broad and influential coalition as a key strength of SB 1262, and we call on advocates and lawmakers to join us in supporting SB 1262.

NOTE: This endorsement has since been removed from their article. What remains is the following:

Contact your California State Senator and ask him or her to vote yes on SB 1262 this week. SB 1262 is a bill by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) that would regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state. In its newly amended form, the bill places state regulatory control and licensing in the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and sets common-sense standards for cultivation and distribution. ASA supports SB 1262 because our research and experience show that sensible regulations preserve safe and dignified access to medical cannabis for patients, while reducing crime and complaints in neighborhoods.

It is funny when cowards run from themselves, but the bottom line is that Americans for Safe Access is still supporting this effort as detailed in David Downs’ article entitled “Do or Die for Mystery Pot Law.” In this article Down’s details how all other group’s of notable mention have pulled their support, while ASA remains steadfast in their undying love for this debacle:

“It’s a little unsettling given how important this is and how little time we have,” said Don Duncan, California coordinator for the 30,000-strong advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

But ASA is staying on-board with SB 1262, which is sponsored by state Senator Lou Correa, a Democrat from Southern California. The bill is scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee in August, and has to be approved by the entire Assembly by the end of the August, or it’s over for this legislative session.

Now to hear Don Duncan say it is unsettling because of how little time we have is simply disingenuous. Americans for Safe Access have worked fr years to block the work of Tom Ammiano’s efforts to provide a regulatory framework that makes sense because they did not like the licensing agency, which was the Alcoholic Beverage Control,” as this would erode their position of “medical only access.” They understand like we all do that cannabis will be legal for adult use very soon and decided to retard that move by ensuring ABC could not regulate cannabis and easily make the transition to adult use.

Down’s article goes on to state:

As of press time, the most recent version of the bill is still supported by the police chiefs, the league, and ASA. But California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition oppose it unless it’s amended.

The DPA argues that the current version of the bill would make things worse for Californians. For one, anybody with a past drug felony would be disqualified from getting an industry license. That provision would place additional burdens upon many Californians — particularly African-American and Latino residents — who’ve already paid their debt to society.

In addition, many of the industry’s biggest and best actors wouldn’t qualify for a license, for technical reasons, such as an outstanding federal case (Harborside Health Center in Oakland) or the lack of official city permission to grow (which is pretty much every urban farmer in California). The bill also provides statewide approval of controversial new city bans on medical pot dispensaries.

“The issues are extremely glaring, and, frankly, I’m not sure they can be resolved,” said Amanda Reiman, DPA’s California policy manager. “The police chiefs think medical marijuana is a sham and look at this as an opportunity to stifle the progression of medical marijuana policy. The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.”

It is good to see that at least some reform organizations have the courage to make statements that tell the truth.  Amanda is 100% right in stating, “The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.” Furthermore it would make criminals out of thousands of law abiding citizens, create mass confusion at the local level of government, and ensure less people were able to access their medicine. Why the fuck any organization who was supposedly on the side of patients and providers would support this debacle is beyond me, but then I have long suspected Americans for Safe Access was indeed the Wolves in Wook clothing.

For a little historical perspective on my position on Americans for Safe Access, just know at one time I was their biggest supporter.

In 2007, our company donated tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise and literature to the organization when they were in the midst of their rebranding. I worked closely with the organization, even housing and distributing their merchandise in our own company offices in Oakland. I traveled throughout the state on their behalf soliciting dispensaries for donations to support their mission. I still respect Steph Sherer and Don Duncan for what I learned about activism and organizing while we worked together. I also appreciate the work Americans for Safe Access did when we were raided by Federal agents in 2007, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me organize a response to the charges and allegations that were made against me and my company during that most difficult time. Their timely and organized response likely resulted in my not going to prison, and I will always be grateful for that.

But 2007 was  long long time ago, and Americans for Safe Access was a much much different organization. Besides the powerhouse figureheads of the organization, Sherer and Duncan, there is little remaining of what was at that time. In those days ASA got the lion’s share of their donations from medical cannabis providers like myself and many dispensaries throughout CA. They had just established their Washington D.C. office and were working to expand their political horizons to serve the folks who paid their bills. As they rebranded the organization and began to work towards doing more political lobbying and fundraising work over grassroots on the ground activism, they began to solicit money from more of the big name donors who were known to fund major projects in the cannabis reform movement. It was obvious they were shifting focus to encourage more large money donors, as it was difficult depending on dispensaries and medical providers who were under constant attack and being forced to shut their doors.

The initial shift was subtle, as a lot of the same names and faces were still in their roles with the organization. But over time their was an obvious sea change in who the organization was serving and what they wanted their image to look like.

Fast forward to late 2011, when I began to notice the most drastic of the change that I now clearly see as impeding cannabis freedom. When the Federal government announced their “crackdown” on the medical cannabis and began targeting high profile providers who donated to them regularly, the sky literally fell over there. Panic ensued and there was a call to circle the wagons to avoid losing everything. You could see it in Steph Sherer’s eyes, as she was on the ground in California a lot working to organize one response or another to what they viewed as an assault on not only patients and providers, but also their revenue. Purse strings were pulled quick by every organization in the state, as no one knew if that day may be their last. DEA raids were happening, including the high profile raid of Oaksterdam University and their dispensary. Letters were being sent to the biggest names in the game, including Harborside, BPG, Vapor Room, and many more, forcing them to close their doors and/or fight Federal charges. The IRS began a systematic crackdown charging incredible tax rates based on decades old drug kingpin tax laws. It was a highly volatile time for sure.

fuckthefeds.odam

As the calendar of 2012 began to pass, there were several efforts to put an initiative on the CA ballot to legalize cannabis for adult use on the heels of a narrow loss in a non-Presidential election year by Proposition 19. Three campaigns were working to secure funding for language that would have made cannabis legal for adults over 21. Money was being thrown at campaigns in Colorado and Washington to do just that, and it was obvious CA would have had a chance at also making history if funding groups came to the table.

Enter Americans for Safe Access with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in tow stating that they had the funding to put a medical cannabis regulatory initiative on the ballot and intended to do so. The  California Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act was filed by Don Duncan of ASA and Ron Lind of UFCW in January 2012 that would have created erroneous regulations for the industry and cemented UFCW’s place at the table as the only union allowed for the industry. It would have drastically reduced who could afford to pay to play in the industry and would have made a nightmare web of bullshit that probably wouldn’t have even passed if it did make the ballot. It literally LIMITED ACCESS across the state.

UFCW.ASA.filing.2012

But I do not believe there ever was funding for the initiative and the entire thing was a smoke screen to run out the clock on the other efforts towards legalization for adult use.  For the price of a shitty website and a few lofty press releases, they created enough doubt in potential donors to definitely not back any of the adult use efforts, thus ensuring cannabis would only be medical in CA for the foreseeable political future. California has 1/10th of the population of the nation and by far produces the most cannabis. When a lot of the interests you serve make their money on the status quo, it is easy to see how this could influence organizational decision making.

Mysteriously during this time Don Duncan also gave up his controlling interest in his West Hollywood dispensary to a well-funded group fronted at one time by TV star Montel Williams and funded by people with deep deep pockets who had also bought the controlling interests to dispensaries in Sacramento and Berkeley, and were applying for a dispensary in Oakland for which Duncan sat on the Board and even took their required regulations test for them. So is it a coincidence that this happens and ASA begins serving the interests of the few more prominently? I think not. There is collusion happening behind these closed doors at a level any honest person simply cannot comprehend.

Here is communication from Abatin’s attorney stating so:

Abatin.Communication.DonDuncan

Don’t believe me about their initiative efforts? That is fine…. Let’s talk Los Angeles and Measure D. Here is what weed journalist David Downs said about Measure D the day after it passed:

Los Angeles voters chose to drastically reduce the number of storefronts selling medical marijuana yesterday, passing Measure D…. Measure D supporters – including the City Council, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, and a dispensary union the UFCW Local 770 — celebrated the win for regulations in the biggest medical marijuana city on the planet.

So here we have ASA nd UFCW celebrating “drastically reducing” the number of places for people to get their cannabis. They put an effort on the ballot behind closed doors that was aimed at shutting down the majority of dispensaries besides a select few who were operating before an arbitrary and illegal deadline was placed by the LA City Council. These groups worked in conjunction with hostile lawmakers and the chosen few dispensing groups to put their competition out of business and again LIMIT ACCESS.

I wrote a piece about this seemingly bullshit move in 2013 called “More IS Better.” In it I detail my opposition the the ASA/UFCW’s coalition to LIMIT ACCESS in LA. I wrote:

The first is Measure D. This is the MOST restrictive and MOST expensive measure. It limits the number of collectives to an arbitrary 135 that were listed in 2007 on the City’s illegal moratorium and Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) and raises the tax rate for weed by 20%.

It was crafted by the ultra-corrupt City Council who has recently voted to ban dispensaries altogether and was written by cannabis enemy LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. The LA Times has suggested that instead of opposing all three, that Measure D is the closest thing to accomplishing NO medical marijuana. Here is their quote on that:

It would be easy enough to urge a no vote on all three, and to call on the city to impose a full-scale ban instead. After all, The Times opposed Proposition 215 from the outset, partly because it was sloppily written and partly because it set up an inevitable conflict with the federal government, which continues to classify marijuana as illegal and dangerous….

Measure D will come the closest to accomplishing that goal, or at least will put us on the right road.

Most important, it would impose limits on the number of marijuana businesses in the city, allowing about 135 dispensaries to remain open — those that were operating and registered under city laws in 2007 and that sought to re-register in 2011.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-marijuana-measure-d-e-f-20130510,0,448078.story

So get that…the super conservative LA Times who thinks dispensaries should be outright BANNED, and the City Council, who also thinks dispensaries should be BANNED, agree that the closest thing to an outright ban they can get passed is Measure D, and they are supporting this effort to severely limit and cripple the local market.

This is and was a glaring reason to assume that the goals of expanding access for patients was no longer the focus of Americans for Safe Access, and instead a shift to focus on providing a competitive advantage for a select few who can compete is their new objective. What they did in LA was unnecessary and counter productive to cannabis freedom. Did I mention that the current version of CA SB 1262 mentions several times Measure D directly, ensuring it’s ability to limit access? Yeah. It is like that.

But let’s get back to where we are now with CA SB 1262.

Tomorrow ASA is organizing a lobbying day at the CA State Capitol. They are calling on medical cannabis supporters to come out and let lawmakers know how they feel about the proposed regulations. They have walked back their full-throated support for the bill, now even calling it “controversial.” As noted earlier they are still publicly supporting the bill and encouraging lawmakers to do so.

Here is their statement on their Lobbying Day scheduled for tomorrow (Monday Aug. 4):

citizenlobbyday.ASA.duncan

 

It is clear that they have gotten a lot of feedback, as they make sure to state “It does not matter if you support or oppose, or are undecided….” They are hedging their bets wherever possible, while continuing to support an effort that will literally shut most every aspect of the current cannabis system in CA down and turn it over to only a very few who can afford to play the game and meet the slim requirements of the bill.

They continue to call for their legion of blind supporters to make their voice heard, while literally selling us out to the interests of the few, the connected, and the opposition. It is an amazingly underhanded effort at the core, and one I can only relate to absolute treason. There is no reason any person who supports cannabis freedom should ever give a dime of their money, any resources, or energy to supporting. It is clear that the new name of the organization should be Americans for Limited Medical Only Access (ALMOA).

ASA.screwed.1

I strongly encourage anyone who cares about cannabis freedom to come out and voice their opposition to this crap. If you can make the ASA Citizen Lobby Day event super. If you cannot, contact your state legislators by phone and email immediately. Let’s organize direct action responses to this Bill while we still have time. Things will move rapidly. It is up to us to ensure we do not have to live under a homogenized rich person’s vision of what the industry should look like.

We must ensure any regulations being put forth take into consideration the current network of small batch producers and friendly patient services that exist everywhere in the state. 

We cannot let the only voice being heard is those who are in bed with the CA Police Chief’s Association and the CA League of Cities, who have openly opposed any sensibility in the CA legal process year after year. ASA should be treated with the same disdain and opposition with these groups as long as they are supporting this effort to LIMIT ACCESS and MAKE CRIMINALS out of thousands of people for doing what they do this very minute. The time to act is NOW, or do not be surprised when this piece of shit is your reality in a few days.

I hate to say it, but our biggest enemies these days are within. The people we need to worry about are right here, pretending to be your friend while selling you down the fucking river for thirty lousy pieces of silver. I just do not get it. But regardless, BEWARE OF THE WOLVES IN WOOK’S CLOTHING. They are everywhere.

Unrivaled Bullshit: @Lab_Tested_Edibles is a Fraud. Korova and CW Analytical Hack Job.

labtested.tryingtohelp.1

So in April this adorable and seemingly awesome Instagram account popped up that began testing edibles and publicly posting results #FORTHEPATIENTS. This no name anonymous Instagrammer would have you believe that they are just a patient who happens to spend thousands of dollars to get edibles tested so that patents know what they are getting. They go to random dispensaries and purchase products, and out of their own pockets and good heart, spend money for the edible and then to get it tested so that they can bring you “the real results.”

Here is their Instagram:

labtested.1

So get this… this whole deal popped up in April, right? Here is a screenshot of their first posting being from April:

lab-tested-edibles.April.1

 

But here is a post that was soon deleted from FEBRUARY from the kids at Korova Edibles:

korova.testing.feb.4

Notice the eerie similarity? Crazy right? Three months before this Dudley Do-Right @lab_tested_edibles Instagram page popped up this highly competitive edible company who is close friends with the owner of CW Analytical labs; and who is in a close knit group of other edible makers looking to gain competitive advantages in the marketplace, Korova edibles had almost an identical comparison model posted on their social media that was removed shortly thereafter? WOW!!!!! What are the chances?

So here is the ruse. Korova Edibles, in conjunction with CW Analytical labs have created this Instagram count to provide a clear competitive advantage for their clients and people who they are in bed with.  They can anonymously post skewed results that discredit some of their bigger competitors and support that the people who are doing business with CW and Korova themselves are the only ones being “truthful” with patients. But it is all bullshit.

Here is a look at some of the edible companies who use CW labs according to the scrolling logos on their own website:

usingCW.1

 

usingCW.2

I know it is shocking, but the companies who happen to test with CW as clients edibles were all reported very favorably on the @lab_tested_edibles site, while other companies such as Cheeba Chews and Auntie Dolores (and my own Compassion Edibles) all came in well below listed cannabinoid levels. Hard to believe, right?

So here is how I confirmed my suspicions. Most all of the results on the site are done by CW, with the exception of a few done by Steep Hill. I have a good relationship with the Steep Hill kids, as their co-founder is publicly known as on of my good friends. I notices the results for the Actibliss Syzurup product were done by Steep Hill. Knowing about the Korova posting from February, I took a wild stab in the dark and went on @lab_tested_edibles Instagram page accusing Korova of dropping those samples off at Steep Hill. I never contacted Steep Hill once. Believe it or not, those guys never give me any information because they know the conflict of interest. They actually go out of their way to keep secrets from me because they have a business to run. But I figured if I made an accusation that someone would contact Steep Hill blaming them for telling me who dropped off the samples.

Sure as shit I was right! I get an angry text message from Steep Hill on why their lab was being accused of this shit in public when they had not done anything. The owner of Korova contacted them stating “Is there no confidentiality between lab and client?!?!…. Only employees at Steep Hill lab would know I dropped off these edible samples.” Yes…. I pissed off my friend to elicit a response, and it worked. Luckily my friend is understanding and knows what an asshole I am.

So there is a clear admission that Korova is indeed the one sending edible samples and anonymously posting them under the name @lab_tested_edibles. I never said that they did work at CW. I said they were in bed with CW, the same way Bhang and other edible makers have had relationships with CW that are more than third party verification relationships.

The Instagram account is complete bullshit and is no more valid than other anonymous websites that attempt to malign other companies to promote their own. These sloppy losers should be ashamed of themselves. If you want to pull this off you need to be less obvious whose interests you are serving. It is a pathetic attempt at catfishing and should not be thought of as a credible source.

A truly credible source would post WHO they are making these claims and investing in this grand experiment. They should post TRANSPARENT AND COMPLETE results that can be verified with the labs. They SHOULD NOT be another edible maker and lab that serves edible makers.

The entire overlap between lab companies and the clients they serve is gross and does nothing to serve the end user. CW is not alone in their intermingling with their clients and working to provide advantages for them, but this is a clear and gross misrepresentation of the service that quality assurance testing is supposed to be.

It is deceitful and wrong and the folks at Korova should be ashamed. It is bad enough that your products taste like dogshit. If I wanted to taste that much plant material I would just suck on a tube of RSO. But this is just sad and pathetic.

They should shut down the Instagram page and come up with a better ruse that does not unravel so easily on them. You guys are funny. Not really… but sort of. You are terrible at fraud. Maybe just try making better products?

It is even sadder that CW Analytical is still pulling bullshit schemes like this with losers this late in the game. They do not deserve to be anyone’s lab in the cannabis industry. They are the epitome of what is wrong with lab testing in cannabis and probably one of the reasons that lab testing will be turned over to state authorities sooner or later.

Way to go fellas… way to go.

initfortepatients.labtested.1

 

We will take a closer look at what the issue is with edible testing in the near future. For now, let this unsavory business practice and absolute fraud disgust you. There is no place in the cannabis community for overt shady underhanded bullshit like this.

Full of Shit: Matthew Davies

So if one more person calls me and says this slimeball ex-real estate broker named Matt Davies is going around saying he did my work in Stockton and got my clients a permit there, I am going to begin a manhunt for dude. On top of that he is wandering around telling people that he has helped several groups through Phase 2 in the Sac application process, which is also bullshit….

He is approaching dispensing collectives in Sacramento in an effort to take over their permits and “manage” their operations for them. In order to do this, he must convince the unknowing that he has some real bona fides to ensure that he can lead them to the promise land. The problem? He really doesn’t. He has not done shit, knows little about cannabis, and apparently has a bunch of family money he s throwing at the wall to see what sticks. Great. Just what this industry needs…another wannabe ex-real estate guy wandering around acting as if he is the second coming of cannabis Jesus and will save all of the struggling dispensaries with his money, charm and deception. Don’t believe the hype….

Dude is a charlatan…a snake oil salesman of the worst kind. And the more digging I do on him the less I like him. I do not appreciate having some loser fuck wannabe wandering around claiming credit for my hard work. So let us be clear….Matt Davies did NO application in Stockton, and if he did it was a loser because I know all three selected applicants and his was not one of them…period. His dad, Bruce Davies put in an application and would have been selected but was in a zone with the two other applicants and was denied, but there is no record of Matt on that application besides being involved with the property. Also, only one group has made it through Phase 2 in Sacramento and he is not a part of that group. So when he comes to sell you his wolf tickets tell Matt Davies he is full of shit and to take his weak ass and unethical bullshit somewhere else. This industry’s asshole department is full. Thanks anyways, loser…

FULL OF SHIT

FULL OF SHIT: Shona Gochenaur of Axis of Love

So leave it to Shona Gochenaur of Axis of Love to ruin a perfectly good (and busy) Tuesday with her overblown criticism of Americans for safe Access and other “large drug reform orgs.” Here is what she had the nerve to say in an article done for by SF Bay Times:

“The way we change stories is we stand in unity with families that are being persecuted for serving our communities, our medical cannabis service providers,” she said. “I am going to say something a little controversial now: the larger drug policy orgs aren’t doing crap. They pay lobbyists and have expensive dinners and do nothing for the growers or the people who need medicine.” She clarified, “I am particularly speaking about groups like Americans for Safe Access, who just had a $500 a plate meal, and what are they doing for medical marijuana political prisoners? And poor patients? Nothing!” She said, “These are the people who need help and should be the first served by drug policy reform.” She concluded, “We need to change this story. We don’t need to pay lobbyists. We need to get things done!”

Really? You want to take a victory lap and in the process kick ASA and other reformers in the face because you think you have some moral higher ground? Well, let us shed a little light on the subject…

Axis for Love is a poorly run organization that has for years been a joke to those in this industry. Their Director, Shona, consistently picks fights within the community in an effort to gain some credibility. They are funded by local SF Dispensaries, including HopeNet and Alternative Relief Co-Op and Bach SF, (for some reason) so that they can provide services, including cannabis, to low income and distraught SF patients. On the surface it seems like a commendable mission and they often do some good work that directly benefits needy patients and those in need of support. But the mission is constantly clouded by Shona’s inability to play nice with others and her need to use her “position” to make a huge stink and cause chaos in the community.

I have tried to reach Shona in the past and thought that she was moving away from these attempts to demean others’ work in an effort to prop up her own. She often makes very public her dirty laundry, many times copying every public official on her rolodex on emails and messages regarding her petty arguments. Her game plan is to wear down those who oppose her and accuse anyone who dare criticize her of bashing gay people or hating the poor and homeless. Her thinly veiled efforts to use her good deeds as a means to prop herself up does not go unnoticed. It seems as if the only thing she does this work for is so she can continue to pat herself on the back and paint herself as some cannabis Mother Theresa. The reality is that she is an agitator who does the bidding of those who fund her efforts. She has used her position to maintain a role with City Officials and has helped to develop several splinter groups to flood the votes of the SF Medical Cannabis Task Force. The results have been more confusion and a constant effort to find sanity in the confusion.

The truth is that Axis of Love could be a very positive force in the community, but Shona’s willingness to use the organization to shamelessly promote herself and attack others in the community has made it impossible to take her, or the organization, seriously. On many occasion I have attempted to reason with her in an effort to find harmony and to get her to stop wasting the movement’s political capital on carnival barking and sideshows, but alas…it seems like there is no getting through to some people.

So here we are….another unnecessary attack on an upstanding group like ASA and an extremely disrespectful and misleading statement in the press. Why? Who the fuck knows? Sometimes crazy is just crazy….but I, for one, am done playing bullshit with her and her Axis of Whatever…..I have lost my patience and will no longer try to reason with insanity. If Shona wants to go to battle within the medical cannabis community I am game…Let’s do it….or she can humbly apologize for these volatile transgressions and we can get back to trying to change the world. I am good either way….

Victory or Valhalla: Our day at Montel Wellness in Sac.

Photo by Vanessa Nelson

On Wednesday I received a call from two lovely senior citizen ladies from Mendo who were planning to “picket” Montel Wellness (Abatin…formerly Capitol Wellness) with a small group of supporters and friends who were upset that the collective had owed them several thousand dollars from months past. They had read my article on the situation and asked if I would like to join their action. They told me of the hardship this default of payment had caused them, as they are on SSI and live on fixed incomes. I felt more enraged than I had about my own debts not being paid and decided to help bring attention to this cause.

I created a press release on Thursday and that afternoon began circulating it to the local press. I did not begin broadcasting it until the community until that night, as I had hoped to keep it somewhat of a surprise. I received a call Thursday evening from the collective’s “director” (and the cause of most of these debts), Aundre Speciale letting me know that the word had gotten out. Maybe a reporter called to investigate or maybe someone leaked it. Either way, it was out, so I posted it to the Warrior in the evening and some email lists. I did not expect a big response on such late notice, so there was not a lot of organizing done ahead of time.

An hour before the action was to begin I received a phone call from a mutual friend of the two women who were organizing the protest, that indeed, the collective had contacted them the prior evening and told them to come down early in the morning to be paid in full! YAY! The pressure of the press release, coupled with pressures from other local activists had prompted them to admit their debt (finally) and pay these women what they were owed. VICTORY!

One of the conditions of their settlement was to sign a non-disclosure and not attend the protest that they had planned. So…they and their supporters were unable to attend the protest, and there I was faced with the press at 5 ’til noon, with not a lot of demonstrators. I gave statements to the press that “While we were satisfied that the pressure of the threatened action caused the collective to honor their obligation to the senior women, we hoped that they would see to paying the dozens of other folks that were also owed money.” I did some on camera interviews and shortly after noon about a dozen folks joined me, some with signs and snacks (thanks!), and we continued on with the planned demonstration.

As I walked up to the spot the collective had 4 armed guards and a PR jackass (above) waiting for our arrival. As I began to give my interview the PR weasel that the collective hired from Lucid Public Relations was there to try and give some sort of rebuttal. His first response was, “You have no idea what happened in our meeting with those women this morning.” I assured Jackass (Jonathan Franks) that I did indeed have first-hand knowledge of the situation from someone who was in the room when the deal was made.

So then wanders out Aundre Speciale, attempting to hand out free waters to folks in an effort to show she was not freaked out and was a nice person. Super. Thanks. We did some interviews and tried to create awareness of the unsavory business practices of the collective. Jackass tried to interject a couple of times, but had nothing relevant to say. I sure hope they did not pay that guy a lot of money because HE SUCKED at his job. He tried to dismiss people’s claims and act as if people were mistaken about the great amount of debt Montel Wellness owed people. Aundre and him attempted to spin the story and act as if they were innocent and that we were just there to capitalize off of Montel’s celebrity. Really? Montel is a B-star at best…maybe B-. Dude hucks juicers and 35% money market loans. He may as well be one of the bullshit psychics that he used to promote on his weak-ass borderline Maury/Springer wannabe Donahue show. He went on to bitch about my online “hyperbole” and stated we were having “amateur hour.” One of the people there took him to task on his lies and ended up getting in an argument with Aundre over her misleading statements to the press. It was classic.

At this time Gary Hiller, the snake in the grass attorney that has been working to undermine all vendors owed money and has threatened several of them personally appeared. Funny. He emailed me earlier in the week informing me he would not be in Sac until the following week. I guess his busy schedule got freed up to handle this situation and make sure the seniors got paid and to control the situation. He was whispering in Jackass’ ear when another vendor who is owed thousands of dollars came up and admonished both of them for their underhanded tactics and threats. This gentleman was a Buddhist monk for twenty years and spoke softly, but his words were powerful because after he spoke them Mr. Hiller and Jackass immediately turned and went back in the facility. They looked like their father had just told them how disappointed he was with them. I could not help but chuckle.

So about a dozen of us demonstrated with signs and had a great time laughing at the joke of an organization that was Capital Wellness and was now Abatin. I held up my sign for everyone passing by that stated “Does “Abatin” mean RIP-OFF? Pay Your Bills. Integrity Matters!” After about a half an hour the assholes in the collective turned the sprinklers on in an effort to get us to disperse. Who turns the sprinklers on at 1:30 pm? It is illegal in Sacramento to water between 10 am and 6 pm, so it was obvious this was an attempt to oppress our actions. But it was a hot day out and the sprinklers ended up feeling really nice actually and many of us enjoyed the opportunity to cool off, so thanks, Jackass.

Sprinklers On. by Vanessa Nelson

We continued to demonstrate and were successful in turning away a few potential patients who did not want to get involved with the situation. We advised them to go elsewhere to find their medicine, as this place was guilty of fraud and evasion of payment. We were there for over two and a half hours and NO patients entered the facility. It was a successful effort and had accomplished the goal of getting the nice ladies paid, so satisfied for now, we dispersed. This peaceful action was a great opportunity to network with others who were in the same boat and had been wronged by the collective. We all vowed to come back regularly until this matter was handled.

Since the report hit the news and the buzz circulated around the movement I have been contacted by several others who want to protest louder, and do everything in their power to ensure folks get paid, or that the organization has all of its permits taken away. So we decided that in two weeks, on Friday, July 1st at noon, we will indeed be back for round 2. Maybe this time we will do a barbecue.

In an effort to gather more information about the “new” program they were trying to implement a friend of mine went to sign up at 5 pm on a Friday. While this is normally the busiest time for collectives, with folks trying to get medicine for the weekend, he informed me there was nobody in the place. He said the entire process took him over an hour and that they had virtually lost their minds. Get this….the program works like this….you pay $45 for a membership (which is refundable if you choose to terminate your membership) and have to fill out about 25 pages of papers. After that, a 24-year-old “counselor” sits you down and goes over the program. She informs you that EVERY time you come in you HAVE TO pay $40 for counseling and $17.50 for 5 grams of medicine. He asked, “What if I am in a hurry and do not want counseling?” The young “counselor” informed him that “It can just be something simple like how you liked your last medicine.” Really? That is what you guys are calling “counselling.” What it sounds like to me is FRAUD. If you want to go further, it could be practicing medicine without a license if you are attempting to “counsel” patients on their illnesses and choice of medicine for their symptoms. See, a collective is only there to “facilitate transactions among its members,” not to provide medical care. She informed him that there was a Doctor on site, and he said “Can I speak to him?” She replied, “Well, he is not here right now. He comes in just a couple of days a week.” So after all of the BS intro stuff he was shown a text menu (no pictures) of the 5 whole strains, no concentrates, and no edibles they carried. You HAVE to take 5 grams. No more. No less. He was able to get two types, which he said were both WEAK and came with about a gram of shake to boot. Thanks. for $57.50 I get 5 grams of B-grade meds with a gram of shake in it? Super.

NOTE: All patients should go in…sign up…get your “$17.50″ for 5 grams, and then return the next day to get refunded your $45 membership fee.” Only so long they could keep that up. LOL.

He left with his purchase, wondering how the fuck they plan on getting that weak ass program to work in a very competitive Sacramento market. The answer? They were using Montel’s star power and were in discussions with Eric Holder to make it so this model would be the only one allowed. Montel’s lunatic rage against the current systems of safe access is based in his belief that he can “clean up the industry and create a model that is more palatable to the Feds, and eventually get everyone else put out of business.” His money men have alluded to such claims with other vendors and people familiar with the new Board structure. Their goal is to use their lobbying power to create a climate that cracks down on the industry and leaves their model as the only one left standing. Then he can make his move on the Nationwide empire he alluded to in his press conference. His partnerships are with powerful folks from Big Pharma and they are attempting to undermine the system through placating law enforcement and others and attempting to demean the works of everyone else to gain competitive advantage.

This is one of the most shameful atempts I can remember, and honestly I think they are pissing in the wind. None-the-less, it is worth being alarmed about and I would hope many others who are concerned would join our movement on JULY 1st to protest this group and their ongoing unsavory business practices. We can continue to put pressure on until they either play nice or go home. They NEED to pay their bills and try to work WITH the community instead of against it, but time will tell. Until then, nothing short of victory will be satisfactory. Victory of Valhalla. I have nothing more to lose, so I am all in.

They can let me know when my check is ready for pick-up or they can continue to be admonished very publicly until they cease to exist. Either way, I will enjoy the journey.

Photo by Vanessa Nelson

Protest at Montel Wellness (Abatin) in Sac Today at Noon

Please join a group of concerned vendors and citizens at 2900 U St. in Sac today for a demonstration calling on the organization to pay their debts and do right by the community. Montel may, or may not, have known about the terrible reputation his new partners have in the community for mismanagement of collective funds that have resulted in the default of hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to hard working folks, but he should have done his homework and cleared up these outstanding debts or found another group to partner with if he wanted to enter this market with no controversy. His decision to attempt to use his celebrity to gain a competitive advantage and his management group’s effort to put remodelling and renovating ahead of paying off the people the business owes is shameful. A peaceful protest will be held today, spearheaded by two senior citizens who are owed thousand of dollars, which they were depending on to supplement their fixed incomes. It is a shame that it has come to this, but when big money interests attempt to rewrite history and marginalize dozens of providers and workers in an effort to weasel out of paying what is owed by their organization, it is time for action. Love, compassion and freedom my ass. I hope to see you there.

MEDIA ADVISORY

Montel Williams medical cannabis dispensary owes tens of thousands of dollars to member providers and contractors and refuses to pay their past debts. A protest has been organized by outraged vendors, including two senior citizens who live on fixed incomes and have been greatly affected by their unwillingness to pay their bills.

(Patients and concerned citizens will gather in protest on Friday, June 17 at noon at Abatin Wellness (29th & U) to express their frustrations.)

By: Concerned citizens and hard-working people that Abatin Wellness (formerly Capitol Wellness) have defaulted payment to for goods and services provided. We will be joined by some who question the integrity of an organization that would spend tens of thousands of dollars on facility upgrades, when they owe hundreds of people in the community for their hard work, and have seemingly circumvented the Sacramento ordinance that regulates medical cannabis dispensaries.

  • On Monday, June 13th Montel Williams held a press conference declaring his leading role in the newly renovated and renamed Abatin Wellness Center, stating he would be “involved at every level of the cooperative, from the philosophical direction, down to the blueprints.” He apparently does not think that financials are included in “everything,” as his management group has failed to do the right thing.
  • Capitol Wellness Center (CWC) is Sacramento’s oldest remaining dispensary and over the past couple of years have mounted hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to mismanagement.
  • When the new partnership was formed with the “Abatin” group there has been an effort to intimidate and mislead people that are owed money by CWC, using bankruptcy laws and threats of disclosure to discourage people from demanding payment. These underhanded tactics have left many in the community questioning the validity and decency of the new “ownership.”
  • The City of Sacramento has laid out a clear ordinance regulating the operations and application process for dispensaries, and it seems this group is circumventing the process in several ways, including being closed for more than 30 days and transferring ownership through back door deals.

 

WHAT: A peaceful protest of Motel William’s and his new “partnership” at Abatin Wellness Center for their lack of integrity, honesty, transparency, and decency. An action to bring awareness to the unsavory business practice happening with the new “ownership” of Abatin, formerly Capitol Wellness Center. A demonstration to demand that the City look deeper into the apparent takeover of a once humble and independently operated dispensing collective by an apparent investment group associated with Mr. Williams, who now is paid a consulting fee for his endorsement of this dispensary; we question how they cannot afford to pay what is owed by the collective but they can afford to pay Montel Williams.

WHO: A group of patients, providers and contractors who are concerned about the business practices of Abatin Wellness Center and their inability to pay their debts to honest and hard-working people, including two senior citizens who live on fixed income and have been greatly affected by Capitol Wellness’ defaulting on what they are owed. People directly affected by the apparent take-over and failure to pay by a group associated with TV celebrity Montel Williams.  Other concerned citizens that question the legal ability of this group to circumvent local laws, and use a paid celebrity to gain competitive advantage.

WHERE:  Abatin Wellness Center (formerly CWC) – 2900 U St., Sacramento CA

WHEN:  Friday, June 17th at 12:00 p.m. (Noon)

WHY: To confront the new “ownership” and question their reasoning for not assuming the debt of the corporation upon ownership transfer. Because patients, providers and those who are owed money by this organization deserve to be paid in full BEFORE hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on renovations, upgrades, and celebrity spokespeople. To bring awareness to a situation that has been handled poorly by the new management group, including attorney Gary Hiller. To let the community know that this group is not worthy of their income and collective resources, as they have defaulted on paying hundreds of hard working people in an already tough economy and to encourage them to go elsewhere in Sacramento for their medical cannabis services.

Sac News and Review piece on the Montel drama and BS…

Below is a decent piece by Nick Miller of the Sac News and Review detailing the Montel soap opera in a little more detail. I was contacted this morning by two senior women who told me Montel Wellness owes them $8,500 and refused to pay them. It was heartbreaking to have ladies my mother’s age who live of of fixed incomes and depend on their harvest to supplement their income telling me how this has affected their lives. I was appalled to think that this group spent probably a undred thousand dollars on renovations and upgrades and “celebrity consulting” and they have made no effort to manage the debt of the organization. These women have gone without, as this organization has spared no expense on their “message.” Their “everyone else is doing it wrong and I am here to save you” BS is unbecoming. I just cannot fathom how these snakes sleep at night. Ugh…

Montel Williams’ fight

The former talk-show host opens a new medical-cannabis dispensary in Midtown to fanfare, controversy


By Nick Miller

“There won’t be a cure for MS in my lifetime. Period. It’s not happening.”

Montel Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, accepts this. He accepts it when he gets up each morning and is in too much pain to lift his feet out of bed. Or when his body can’t regulate its temperature and he’s the only guy in an air-conditioned room sweating uncontrollably.

He says these words on a recent Thursday morning at downtown Sacramento’s Hyatt Regency hotel amid sips of a warm espresso drink. The former talk-show host, whose Montel Williams Show ended in 2008 after 17 years, says he’s on a single-minded mission to mitigate, abate and assuage his MS symptoms. And share what he’s learned with patients worldwide.

“Everything I’m working on is a spoke in the wheel,” he says.

CW: I guess the history of the organization and its obligations are like the playing card stuck in that spoke getting whacked every time it passes by until it withers and is no more….

Williams’ latest spoke, however, is a divisive one: Abatin Wellness Cooperative, a medical-cannabis dispensary he launched this past Monday in Midtown Sacramento. A long-standing advocate, Williams has spoken at city halls across the country on behalf of medical pot. But this is his first medical-marijuana business endeavor. He hopes to take what he learns over the next six months here in Sacramento and expand nationwide.

Critics, including many local pot-club owners, say Williams is merely cashing in on California’s marijuana boom. They cite his commercials shilling for cash-advance loans and penchant for hosting psychics on his old TV show as grounds to doubt his compassion.

CW: It is hard to think how compassionate people would bully and intimidate senior citizens and hard working people to get out of paying their debts. They are your goons…

Many also question whether he should be allowed to operate a dispensary in the city, which has a moratorium on new clubs and an ordinance disallowing transfer of ownership. Williams says he is simply “consulting” at Abatin, and that Aundre Speciale—who owned the club that also previously operated at 2100 29th Street as Capitol Wellness Collective—remains on as “executive director.”

CW: Manager. Check the payroll differential from 2009 and now….

A contingent of vendors arrived at the new dispensary on Monday to complain that they were unpaid by Speciale for cannabis and services provided at her old collective, which shut down months ago, only to be remodeled into the existing Abatin club. One disgruntled contractor, Mickey Martin, who owns medical-cannabis consulting firm T-Comp in the Bay Area, argued he’s owed $20,000 from Capitol Wellness and also that Abatin is in violation of Sacramento’s ordinance, which states that any dispensary that closes for more than 30 days will have its permit revoked.

CW: That is correct….

Capitol Wellness says it’s working with vendors to resolve any payment issues.

I have made several calls, sent emails, and have mailed letters in an effort to get a response to no avail. This has been going on since January. Where is the resolution I wonder? Glad they spent everyone else’s collective income on renovations while leaving contractors and suppliers out in the cold.

Williams rebuffs all detractors. “Anyone who would say [I’m doing this for the money] clearly is thinking of how they position themselves, because they’re not thinking about me. I’ve been doing this for the last 10 years. It’s not like I’m doing this because I’m trying to make a buck. …

CW: So…I could care less your motivation. Just pay your bills, dude….and try and play by the rules. Unsavory business practice sucks, but KARMA sucks more…..

For the rest of this story visit the SN&R site HERE

Montel OWES money….Pay your bills, dude…

So in 2009 my companies began doing work for Capital Wellness Collective is Sacramento. We worked for several months to help develop business systems, renovate facilities, and help open the new 29th Street location. As the organization expanded to its sister location in Berkeley, we took on the construction job of building ALL of the walls, painting, laying floors and helping to open that facility. At the end of the job we were promised that we would be paid the $20,000 owed to us “as soon as Berkeley got up an running.” That was June of 2009…here we are, two whole years later and I have still not been paid.

I have sent letters to the “new management,” being Montel’s group out of LA to no avail. They have not even had the courtesy to respond to my letter of inquiry or multiple phone calls. They spent over $35,000 renovating their new “high-end” collective, which is a real slap in the face considering that is MY money they are virtually spending. In addition, several people who I am close with are also owed tens of thousands of dollars by this group for medicine and services, and they have been nothing but shady in their dealings with them. They are saying that a person must sign of on a 1099 for EVERYTHING they ever brought into the facility for the past 5 years, leaving them holding the bag for all of those taxes from collective group cultivation sites, thus meaning they would owe more than they are owed. WTF? You cannot change history. Pay the fucking bills and start clean or be prepared for a major backlash. I for one am tired of playing nice and am prepared to make this a major media issue if they do not rectify the situation. It is cowardice and inconsiderate to continue to fuck people who supported the CWC/CBCB effort for years and were fucked over when the organization could not control its spending and pay its bills.

So below are my smart ass comments on this lame ass attempt to woo over our community with some B-Star power….

Sacto: TV’s Montel Williams Comes to Sacramento to Open Marijuana Dispensary

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 1:58 PM

By Miles Bennett-Smith
Published: Tuesday, Jun. 14, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 1B

TV’S MONTEL WILLIAMS COMES TO SACRAMENTO TO OPEN MARIJUANA DISPENSARY

Montel Williams has been the face of many things – host of a nationally syndicated television talk show and pitchman for prescription drug assistance products and a fruit-and-vegetable emulsifier.

CW: Funny how Montel wants to be the front man on this project, considering his work to prop up Big Pharma over the years…

On Monday, Williams appeared in Sacramento to announce a partnership with a new enterprise, a medical marijuana dispensary.

CW: It is not a “new enterprise.” It is Sacramento’s oldest enterprise and with that he should take on the responsibility of their debts, as well as their assets…

In a news conference at the newly renovated offices of the former Capital Wellness Center, Williams spoke about his own battle with multiple sclerosis and why he turned to marijuana to alleviate near-constant neurological pain.

CW: You can call it what you want to, but it does not mean they do not owe the money they are responsible for…

“Prescription drugs nearly shut down my kidneys. Then a doctor suggested I try medical marijuana,” said Williams, who credits pot for improving his health and well-being.

Williams   a recent guest host of “Good Day Sacramento” on Channel 31 (KMAX)   led a tour of the new Albatin Wellness Cooperative at 29th and U streets in the Newton Booth neighborhood of midtown. He was accompanied by a Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Alan Shackelford, who specializes in medical marijuana.

CW: Any chances that the Doctor has some cash you can borrow?

“We’ve been caught up in culture surrounding medical marijuana that’s 20 years old,” Williams said. “While adhering to every single state law, we want to provide safe access for patients and really medicalize this. Patients should be put first.”

CW: I love it when a newbie…famous or not…walks into the movement as if they are a savior with all new ideas and makes it seem like they are a revolutionary….Pay your bills and we can talk about that.

He decided to partner with the marijuana cooperative’s director, Aundre Speciale, a friend he met two years ago and with whom he shares a philosophy of making medical marijuana available along with patient counseling and a standardized product.

CW: Unfortunately Aundre was a good friend and knows first hand that the collective owes me and many others money. It would be nice if, as a “partner,” she used her influence to do the right thing. As a “partner” it would seem in her best interest to make sure the folks who took care of her for so long were taken care of by the new bosses….Saying “I am sorry” is nice, but paying my bills would be nicer….

The host of “The Montel Williams Show,” which aired from 1991 to 2008, said he would be “involved at every level of the cooperative, from the philosophical direction down to the blueprints.”

CW: Good…get involved with the BOOKKEEPING, and get the bills PAID, dude….you want our community to accept you, then you must do right by the community….anything less is bullshit…..So get your calculator out and start writing some checks Mr. Involvement….

His influence certainly shines through in the decor and appearance of the dispensary, which is a far cry from at least some other facilities that advertise their product in windows and display it openly in glass cases. The building is as nondescript as its dull-blue hue, at least on the outside.

CW: It used to be YELLOW, so that paint job was essentially paid for by me and many others you guys are shafting…so I guess you are welcome….

Once visitors walk through the door, they are in a mosaic-tile lobby with flat-panel televisions playing various slides concerning the history of medicinal marijuana in addition to testimonials from Williams and others in the field.

CW: Flat panel TVs? Those would look nice in my house. Would be nice if I had the money for flat panel TVs…..Mosaic Tiles? Those would have went well in my bathroom or entryway..but I am BROKE….so must be nice…

After having their permits and paperwork vetted by a receptionist, the patients are buzzed in to a larger room to meet with a “counselor.” This happens every time they come in to discuss their medical needs, before any of what the center calls medicine is distributed.

CW: I would be interested to know who is doing the counseling. LOL….

It feels almost like going to the bank, except instead of money the tellers dole out a different kind of green. Dozens of cameras and at least four security guards monitor every movement.

CW: Chances are I INSTALLED THOSE VIDEO CAMERAS. You are welcome…now pay me!

Unlike most dispensaries, no marijuana is displayed in the facility, anywhere. Patients don’t see the actual product, which is available in edible and smokable form, until the very end, and can’t use it on the property.

CW: You cannot check it out before you purchase it? Maybe that is because the only vendors they have left are CRAPPY ones and they do not want you to see the CRAPPY products….

“I want this to be someplace your mother and father could see themselves walk into,” Williams said. He is using his celebrity status to try to do just that – he brought his parents along for the tour.

CW: How does mom and dad feel about you propping up an organization that is trying to beat a father of two and a medical cannabis political prisoner out of his $20,000? Did you tell them that part or are you ashamed?

But Williams’ high-profile appearance also brought with it some controversy for Albatin even before the system debuted Monday.

CW: Damn RIGHT!

A group of five vendors came to the dispensary to inquire about what they claim is thousands of dollars owed for marijuana provided to Speciale’s Capital Wellness Cooperative in recent months.

GOOD FOR THESE FOLKS…WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE TOO!

Gary Hiller, the legal adviser for Capital Wellness Cooperative Inc., said any claims of money owed would be fully investigated.

CW: Investigated? How about fucking PAID, asshole….you partnered with an organization that has spent the last two years robbing Peter to pay Paul and you want to investigate? Look, man….I am owed cash for my blood, sweat, and energy….I got your investigation right here….Does your investigation include returning a fucking call or answering a letter? You are full of shit…

“If a patient-cultivator brings in excess medicine, he or she will be reimbursed the cost of cultivating that medicine in accordance with state law.”

CW: Shit…how about the people who built the walls and helped keep the organization going who were promised to be paid when things “got better.” Not much better than Daddy Warbucks coming in to save the day. Pay your bills, dude….

That seemed to put the issue to bed for the most part, as minutiae and legal wrangling appeared to be at the root of the confusion, leaving Williams to focus on his goal of medical marijuana patient advocacy.

CW: BELIEVE THIS ISSUE IS FAR FROM PUT TO BED. I have been waiting for this bullshit fanfare grand opening press release crap…GAME ON…..GAME ON…..You can be sure you have put NOTHING to rest…..

Williams said he wants to change the stigma surrounding doctor-prescribed pot use.

CW: Try changing the stigma around Capital Wellness first, champ. Thanks.

“It’s absurd. I can go get morphine pumped into my system and nobody’s got a problem,” he said. “But all of a sudden they’re really worried if I smoked a joint.”

CW: I a’int worried about your joint, but I am worried about your disregard for the people who have helped develop Capital Wellness over the years and your inability to pay your bills. I have had it with that shit, so if you think you are taking a victory lap on my dime, you are sadly mistaken. Sorry. If you want to put some skin in the game, then take the responsibility that comes with it. Before we do any more press, let us pay the fucking bills…I do not think that is too much to ask…Thanks.

Story Source: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/06/14/3698335/tvs-montel-williams-comes-to-sacramento.html