Medical Marijuana Exec’s Legal Troubles a Setback for Cannabis Industry Regardless of Outcome

, Medical Marijuana Exec’s Legal Troubles a Setback for Cannabis Industry Regardless of Outcome

The medical marijuana entrepreneur behind weGrow – a hydroponics superstore attempting to expand nationally – is in some hot water.

Dhar Mann (pictured), who founded the company in 2010 and serves as its chief executive officer, has been charged by prosecutors in Oakland with 13 felony counts for grand theft and forgery.

Officials claim that Mann bilked the city out of tens of thousands of dollars by defrauding a local redevelopment program. The charges come less than two months after Mann settled another legal dispute with a former partner who was once a top executive at weGrow.

Mann is innocent until proven guilty, of course. But the allegations certainly won’t help the medical marijuana industry’s reputation, even if a court ultimately decides the charges are without merit.

These are the types of stories that stay in the public’s mind, and they are the ones that can sway voters when it comes to MMJ issues and ballot measures. Legitimacy is of the utmost importance in this industry and is key to gaining community acceptance of medical marijuana. When high-profile industry executives are charged with theft and fraud, the entire industry’s credibility takes a hit.

The lawsuit against weGrow’s founder is already having a ripple effect: A proposed dispensary in Oakland with ties to Mann has lost its conditional permit to operate in the city.

It’s also unclear how – or if – this will affect weGrow’s expansion as the company attempts to become one of the first true national brands in the MMJ industry. WeGrow has a store in Phoenix and recently opened one in Washington DC. It also has plans to expand into several more cities and states this year through its franchise program.

(Editor’s note: Mann has written two columns for MMJ Business Daily on how to find opportunities in the medical marijuana industry. We believe the columns offer sound, valuable business advice in areas unrelated to the charges against him, so we will keep them on the site at this time).

5 comments on “Medical Marijuana Exec’s Legal Troubles a Setback for Cannabis Industry Regardless of Outcome
  1. Steve on

    I tried to warn you that Dhar is not a good guy. He is also lying and stealing money from people opening up We Grow stores. His own store closed in Oakland because it was losing money. He is now promising great things to new potential franchises. This is not the guy the industry needs as a spokesman. He is a liar and a cheat and this investigation is only scratching the surface. Check his background, he has ripped off many people and continues to steal for his own personal gain.

  2. Doug Banfelder on

    We should all hope the industry is by now bigger than any allegations lodged against a single individual.

    It is true, however, that our collective daily actions determine how we are perceived by the general public and policymakers.

    We all bear personal responsibility for this collective image, so our behavior needs to be beyond reproach.

    One of the best ways to forge a positive image is to be active and engaged within our local communities.

    Self-policing is also important, especially in a field attracting more than its share of profiteers, con artists and other undesirables.

    Advocacy groups such as Chambers of Commerce and other organizations wishing to build their rep as credible players should have codes of conduct – and enforce them to keep the “gene pool” at least reasonably clean.

    • chrisw on

      Great points, Doug. Btw, we are hosting a national industry conference this November, and we want to have a panel discussion on the importance of community involvement (including the best ways to go about this).

  3. Max Tanner on

    Savvy investors consider such an isolated action as almost meaningless. Industry has to grow, no
    turning back.

  4. Doug Banfelder on

    Thanks Chris.

    I’ve been involved in my city’s neighborhood issues for years, serving on a zoning board, participating in block watches and merchant associations, working with councilmembers to address crime and blight concerns, etc.

    This experience with local and state officials provides a foundation of mutual respect that is very helpful in facilitating substantive discussions about MMJ.

    A panel discussion on this topic would be terrific.

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