OAKLAND -- Oakland officials have nixed a proposed medical marijuana dispensary because of the operators' ties to a "potrepreneur" facing 13 felony charges for defrauding the city.

Deputy City Administrator Arturo Sanchez rescinded a conditional dispensary permit issued to G8 Medical Alliance, whose consultant and perspective landlord was Dhar Mann -- the 27-year-old businessman accused by Alameda County prosecutors of pocketing more than $40,000 in city grants intended for improvements at several of Mann's properties.

Mann, who is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, has stakes in several businesses, including his parents' taxi company, Friendly Cab; a real estate firm, MannEdge; and weGrow, a hydroponics supply store Mann wants to expand nationwide.

Mann technically was not part of G8 Medical Alliance, but his close ties to nearly all of the group's board members led competitors and critics to question whether the board was merely a front to get Mann a piece of the city's lucrative medical marijuana business.

As the dispensary's landlord, Mann could have profited handsomely from the operations without being required to submit to a background check.

Despite approving G8 Medical Alliance in March for one of four conditional dispensary permits, city officials also had voiced concerns over its connections to Mann, especially given that he owned all three locations proposed to house the dispensary.


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In rescinding the permit Friday -- one day after prosecutors filed charges against Mann -- Sanchez wrote to G8 Medical Alliance leaders that they had "willfully ignored the serious concerns ... with regards to the appearance of an improper relationship between MannEdge, your proposed medical cannabis dispensary and the property owners of your proposed dispensary."

G8 Medical Alliance board member Toni Mims-Cochran responded to the city Monday, accusing it of illegally rescinding the permit based solely on the criminal charges against Mann and "slandering" board members as Mann's puppets.

"To imply, without any supporting evidence, that persons who have individually achieved a certain level of success and respect in the community are incapable of making independent decisions ... is offensive and insulting," wrote Mims-Cochran, an attorney, who has previously represented Mann.

Marijuana business

Mann burst audaciously onto Oakland's medical cannabis scene several years ago. He sought a permit for an industrial grow operation until federal authorities protested, and also started both a failed medical marijuana trade school and a supply store.

When Oakland last year announced that it would be granting permits for four new dispensaries, Mann was notably absent from the board of G8 Medical Alliance, which was stacked with associates.

In addition to Mims-Cochran, the board included Ariana Patino, who works for Mann, and Leo Bazile, a former Oakland council member and attorney who worked at Mann's cannabis school.

The city's letter rescinding the dispensary permit was addressed to both of them at 4849 E. 12th St. -- the headquarters of Mann's Friendly Cab company.

"I'm astonished the city ever gave them a permit in the first place. It was fairly obvious they were a shadow board," said medical cannabis blogger Mickey Martin.

City unaware of probe

Sanchez said he had been unaware of the accusations against Mann even though they originated out of the city auditor's office.

The city rejected G8 Medical Alliance's first proposed site, owned by Mann, because it was too close to a school.

Sanchez said the group was told to find a replacement site not connected to Mann, but instead proposed two additional Mann properties.

The city was planning to rescind G8's permit, Sanchez said, and decided to take immediate action after prosecutors filed charges against Mann. "It heightened our sense of concern that the city wasn't fully informed about all the business relationships that might exist," Sanchez said.

Prosecutors charged Mann with bilking the city out of more than $44,000 in grants designed to help him make improvements at four properties, including the first proposed dispensary site at 70 Hegenberger Loop.

Prosecutors wrote that Mann submitted copies of checks made out to contractors for city reimbursement without actually submitting the checks to the contractors.

In several cases, prosecutors wrote, Mann "simply redeposited the checks to his bank account, writing on the back of the checks 'not used for intended purpose.' "

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.