Two dispensaries under the umbrella of the second-largest dispensary chain in the state, La Mota, have shuttered in the weeks following WW’s reporting that detailed millions in tax liens and more than 30 lawsuits filed against the chain and its owners, Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell.
Both dispensaries closed before WW broke the news on Thursday that Secretary of State Shemia Fagan is moonlighting as a consultant for one of the couple’s companies—a revelation that’s roiled the Democratic Party in Oregon.
On that sunny Thursday afternoon, the La Mota dispensary in the Hollywood neighborhood was locked shut. The green La Mota sign that once adorned the front of the building had been removed. And a server at a nearby teriyaki joint, when asked if she knew a reason for the closure, flashed her phone—the screen showed WW’s article about the chain and its owners’ tax liens.
That La Mota location was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the building owners in January against Mitchell, a part owner of the shop, and one of the La Mota companies, La Mota Hollywood LLC. The landlord alleged nonpayment of rent and stated the “Defendant entered upon the premises with force or is unlawfully holding the premises with force.” Mitchell’s attorney argued that the landlord had failed to keep up with building repairs, and the cost to fix the deficiencies is more than the owed rent.
In March, the two parties reached a settlement. And while it’s unclear exactly what the settlement terms were, court filings suggest the defendants agreed to leave the premises by mid-April.
Another La Mota dispensary on Northwest Front Avenue in industrial Portland is also shuttered. On Sunday afternoon, a note saying the water had been shut off due to nonpayment of the bill was affixed near the front entrance of the shop. Calls are sent to a voicemail box.
Meanwhile, in Northeast Portland, a new dispensary owned by La Mota’s principals has opened. It’s not, however, branded as a La Mota store. Instead, it’s called Nuggies. The sign affixed to the all-black building is multicolored with graffitilike, bubble letters.
Nuggies is one of La Mota’s many product brands. It primarily makes concentrates and vape cartridges.
Since WW’s March 29 cover story detailing La Mota and its owners’ political ambitions, some politicians and state agencies have attempted to distance themselves from the couple. The training academy Emerge Oregon removed Cazares from its board. The city of Portland also removed Cazares from its cannabis policy advisory team this week. The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries terminated a half-million dollar grant awarded to a nonprofit whose co-founder is Cazares. And top Democrats in the state, including Senate President Rob Wagner and Gov. Tina Kotek, are donating money to charities in amounts that La Mota and its owners contributed to their campaigns.
Meanwhile, the couple continues to accrue tax liens. On April 6, the Oregon Department of Revenue issued a tax lien against Mitchell and several companies he controls, for $118,000, including marijuana and withholding taxes.
The couple is attempting to expand into other states, too. They’ve applied for licenses in New Mexico and Michigan, and in November of last year, records show, Cazares contributed $7,200 to the lieutenant governor of New Mexico, Howie Morales.