California pot entrepreneur sentenced to five years in prison
January 21, 2014
A Central Valley medical marijuana entrepreneur, who once applied to set up a dispensary in San Luis Obispo, has received a five-year-federal prison sentence. [Modesto Bee]
Stockton businessman Matthew Davies, an MBA graduate, restaurateur and owner of a property management company, operated a $10 million medical marijuana enterprise in the Central Valley. Last year, Davies pled guilty to conspiracy, manufacturing and sales of marijuana, despite previously launching a media campaign claiming he was the target of wrongful prosecution.
“If California had the gumption to remove ambiguities of our law, there is no way a federal prosecutor would have been able to prosecute me,” Davies said.
Davies operated seven dispensaries in the Stockton and Sacramento areas, as well as a 30,000 square foot cultivation center in a Stockton warehouse. He gained a reputation for taking over and renovating failing dispensaries, often equipping them with holistic health services, such as chiropractic care, massage therapy and acupuncture.
In 2011, Davies submitted a business license application to the city of San Luis Obispo for a proposed dispensary. The city rejected the application, citing a lack of zoning for medical marijuana.
Though a moratorium on dispensaries in San Luis Obispo had expired, Davies chose not to appeal the decision. He told CalCoastNews that there was no hope for opening a dispensary in the city.
Federal investigators claim Davies wrote $117,000 in checks from dispensaries he owned to pay down debts for his upscale French restaurant and a mobile home park he operated.
Davies ran his medical marijuana venture as a nonprofit and was supposed to only receive a modest salary. Feds also accuse Davies of using hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits to acquire other dispensaries.
While facing prosecution, Davies hired former Clinton administration official Chris Lehane to run a media campaign aimed at keeping the businessman out of prison. Lehane launched a website, keepmattfree.org, and gained coverage in the New York Times and Huffington Post.
Davies, a father of two daughters, ages 2 and 1, will begin his sentence on March 3.