Winners of Grover Beach pot shops quickly sold permits

September 12, 2019


As part of the green rush stampede, entrepreneurs battled for a limited number of Grover Beach marijuana retail shop permits as the city touted its ability to scrutinize applicants. [Cal Coast Times]

But shortly after the city awarded four retail permits, winners began selling their permits without public oversight or disclosure. While the price of the two business deals were not disclosed, in San Diego County sales of permitted retail shops have garnered between $3 million and $17 million.

With a dozen applicants vying for four permits, the Grover Beach City Council espoused the importance of a thorough vetting process. Then in late 2017, the council voted to award the coveted permits to a group of people who included felons, a man on the sex offender registry list and people affiliated with the League of California Cities.

At that time, council members argued against allowing the permit winners – The Monarch, 805 Beach Breaks, Natural Healing Center, and Milkman – to sell their permits. However, a clause in the ordinance permits the city manager to allow the sale of marijuana pot shops and the transfer of permits.

The Monarch was the first to sell, less than five months after the council voted to award the permit, and before they even secured a building.

The Monarch is a pot business consisting of six principals, three of whom have ties to the League of California Cities. Patrick Shannon, The Monarch’s chief operating officer, is a former employee of the league; Antolin Cardenas, another principal, works in public affairs for the league; and the CEO of the Monarch, Sunni Mullinax, is married to David Mullinax, the league’s local representative on the Central Coast and a close personal friend of former Grover Beach mayor John Shoals.

In his defense, David Mullinax told reporters he was not involved in his wife’s business and that he and Shoals did not discuss The Monarch’s retail pot permit application.

Shortly after Shoals voted to award The Monarch one of the permits, the permit approval was quietly transferred to DRES, a company affiliated with Ash Israni, who is also involved in the Grover Beach Lodge project, according to the Secretary of State website.

Grover Beach City Manager Matt Bronson said he approved the permit transfer, and that the new business must meet city code requirements and their owners undergo background checks. In addition, Sunni Mullinax still has an ownership interest in the business, Bronson said.

With the final construction of Israni’s building underway, the city’s newest pot shop, Urbn Leaf, is currently hiring employees and slated to open soon.

Last month, Harvest Health & Recreation announced it had purchased 805 Beach Breaks, another favorite of Shoals and then councilman Jeff Lee.

In May 2018, 805 Beach Breaks opened at 1053 Highland Way.

Ed Esters, one of the original co-owners, has a controversial past and is presently listed on California’s sex offender registry. Esters was convicted in 1997 of drugging, raping and sodomizing a female victim. He was released from prison in 2001.

In March, deputies raided 805 Beach Breaks after discovering co-owner Brian Touey was illegally growing cannabis in Santa Barbara County. Touey was charged with felony perjury and two misdemeanor counts of illegal possession of marijuana for sale and illegal cultivation.

In a settlement with prosecutors, Touey agreed to give up his cultivation license and to pay $32,000, and the county agreed to drop all charges.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

El publico stupido.

Not seeing how all this so called “regulation” that is being enacted is actually helping anyone but those who have their hand out. The voters rather overwhelmingly asked that cannabis be legal. Were it simply LEGAL, like growing tomatoes, then anyone who wants a plant could grow their own. It would certainly lessen the making of money off of these backroom deals. Felons, who have been convicted of serious crimes would not be enabled. Illegal grows would not be much of an issue unless trespassing and polluting were factors and there would not be the level of competition over permits, etc., which is leading to questionable (corrupt) government. It seems rather senseless to regulate a non-addictive herb more than, say, alcohol, which takes a heavy toll on our highways and our health. Not that I am against a glass of wine, mind you, but it just seems ridiculous to create more crime than you prevent by imposing unrealistic laws and then allowing the very worst of society to circumvent the only seemingly reasonable ones for money.

I’m not a fan of “pot shops”, but hoped that Cities / County would use some reasonable vetting process.

Silly me! The permit process should not have allowed anyone to allow transfer of permits without the process of public review. Sigh, that worked so well (not) as revealed in the issues noted in the article.

To me it looks like those making the big bucks are the ones who are cashing in by selling their permits. Who’s palms are being greased by this flawed ordinance???? How is Grover Beach doing with revenue from these “pot shops”? Is it as much as the permit holders are making? This all screams CORRUPTION!

You gotta love how the City Manager makes the decision, to including reasoning why convicted felons, one of drug offenses and the other convicted of rape and sodomy should be first in line because “that is only one factor”. Not much public process as it would be on record, lots of behinds the scenes activity never disclosed.

Marijuana is so cool, now let’s get some Cheetohs

Can we get some chimichangas, I’m so high

These idiots. They were falling over themselves to jump on this bandwagon on the delusion of huge tax revenues and the Lord only knows what other “perks” were personally garnered.

They’ve created a monster. A monster that no one should have in their community but to hell with what’s right. It’s all about the coin.

Now…look where we’re at and where we’re going. Circling the proverbial toilet bowl on a direct path to the sewer.

Getting away from here…far, far from here can’t come soon enough.

When you do you will never look back. You have no idea how much happier you’ll be.Slo Co is nothing but a Shitopia of corruption, greed and hypocrisy.

The monster will be easy to kill: allow outdoor grows in people’s back yards. The market would be flooded with cannabis, the price would be driven down, and the greed element would flee town.

The market certainly wouldn’t be flooded because small outdoor grows would be for personal use. It would kill the retail (tax) business by loss of customers if people grew in their backyard and just gave away any extra they had to friends and family, like most of us do with any other garden crop where it grows in excess (tomatoes, zucchini, etc).

Then how would the Gov keep tabs on who produced and sold what? No way in hell there gonna miss out on a dime of possible tax revenue. That was the entire point of legalization. Kinda like the prohibition days. Its not about whats morally, ethically or healthy, its about money for the Gov.