Cannabis chain La Mota continues to falter in Oregon, recently shutting down one of its newest Portland stores, vacating the facility where it extracted cannabis for many of its dabs, vapes and extracts, and attempting to sell two properties it owns in Salem.
La Mota’s lease at the 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Northeast Portland, where it created most of its products, expired last summer; at the end of November, according to the landlord, La Mota left the building and removed all its extraction equipment.
By now you know La Mota’s story: Its founders, Aaron Mitchell and Rosa Cazares, became prominent Democratic donors in Oregon in recent years, piled up tax liens and lawsuits, and hired Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan for a consulting job—until a WW report of her moonlighting forced her resignation.
It’s unclear whether Mitchell and Cazares have found a new processing facility; associates say they aren’t sure of the couple’s whereabouts.
The departure is likely to be a significant blow to the company and its various product brands, including Nuggies, Caked and Dab Society. Without an extraction facility, those products are impossible to make.
Meanwhile, the couple is attempting to sell at least three of their properties in Oregon: two in Salem (one of which operated as a dispensary and another which Mitchell purchased just last year) and another property in Portland that operated as a La Mota dispensary until it shuttered this spring.
When reached by phone, La Mota’s broker, Kidder Matthews’ Kevin Murphy, said that the sale of properties the company owns is “business as usual.” La Mota’s owners are electing to sell assets, Murphy says, that aren’t profitable or aren’t in their “long-term plan.”
“The cannabis industry is a cash industry. To go do any other transactions, or expand in other markets, you gotta have cash,” Murphy said. (Many cannabis businesses in Oregon are allowed to bank through a limited number of credit unions, and all of the comparably large cannabis chains use banks.)
Murphy did not specify how many Oregon properties Mitchell and Cazares are attempting to sell. The couple has opened a number of dispensaries in New Mexico this year.
“Whatever has been written about them, I’ve really enjoyed working with them. I’m really cautious who I do business with,” Murphy said. “They’re doing just fine...perception does not always equal reality.”
Mitchell and Cazares owe more than $59,000 in property taxes, both for the current year and for delinquent past years, on the three properties they’re trying to offload, according to property records.
Meanwhile, Nuggies, a dispensary the couple opened just this spring in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood, recently shut down.
Correction: A previous version of this story said that Disco Dabs is a La Mota brand. That’s incorrect. Disco Dabs is not affiliated with La Mota. WW regrets the error.