Co-Founder of Weed Retailer Wrote Ballot Measure in 2021 to Legalize Cannabis Businesses in Anaheim
The front entrance to the Catalyst Cannabis Co. retail outlet in Santa Ana which is located right next to the 55 Fwy.
By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher
Damian Martin, Esq., co-founder of Catalyst Cannabis Co., an expanding retail chain of “weed stores” with locations in Long Beach and Santa Ana, told The Anaheim Investigator via email he authored a measure in June 2021 that would have put the question of legalizing cannabis businesses before Anaheim voters the very next year had it collected the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
In the email, Martin said his firm had “retained the services” of Adam Spiker, vice-president of Spiker Rendon Consulting, Inc., a lobbyist with offices in downtown Los Angeles, to “pursue cannabis policy advancement and licensing through cannabis ballot measures in the L.A. County South Bay, particularly the cities of Redondo Beach, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach.“
“However as also widely reported the South Bay projects began to go very poorly,” he typed. “[T]he cities were very opposed to us and our approach, and there were internal disagreements on project strategy, and, as a result, there was a falling out between Catalyst and Spiker Rendon, such that by March 2022, Catalyst and Mr. Spiker / Spiker Rendon were no long actively working together.”
“Prior to the falling out, Anaheim was a city that Catalyst was planning to pursue cannabis policy advancement and licensing with Adam Spiker / Spiker Rendon as our consultant using the ‘South Bay Model’, i.e., through a ballot measure…. I was asked by Mr. Spiker to draft (and then drafted) the initial version of what became ‘The Anaheim Cannabis Regulation and Land Use Measure’ in June 2021.”
Martin said that after Catalyst and Spiker parted ways, his firm decided to completely abandon the initiative. “Other than the initial drafting, Catalyst did not play a behind-the-scenes role in trying to get ‘The Anaheim Cannabis Regulation and Land Use Measure’ going,” he said. Furthermore, he emphasized they were “not involved in any political / community coalition building” to support it.
When Martin was asked about a similarly named, albeit differently worded measure the city clerk’s office received from Stacy Silva on October 15, 2021, he said he was unaware of it. Evidence The Investigator has uncovered shows that Silva has been employed as an office clerk at the Buena Park headquarters of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324 at least since 2009.
By early 2022, Adam Spiker had adopted Martin’s measure as his own. A version of it was submitted to the city clerk’s office by Belal Dalati on March 21st. In an email sent roughly two hours before Dalati dropped by to file the required paperwork, Kenneth G. Spiker, Jr., president and CEO of Spiker Rendon Consulting, Inc., asked a city official if he could call him to discuss “our Anaheim Initiative.”
But it never made it to the ballot. On May 16th, Dalati withdrew the measure at the urging of Paul Kott and Bill Taormina, two prominent businessmen who were anti-pot and opposed to the legalization of cannabis businesses in Anaheim. Taormina would allege in a text message to Councilman Trevor O’Neil that Dalati had been “forced” to file it “by Jeff Flint and other ‘dope deal’ promoters.”
As we first reported, Todd Ament, president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Flint, president of Core Strategic Group, and Mayor Harry Sidhu approached UFCW Local 324 between 2019 and 2020 and cut a deal: that in return for a labor peace agreement in any ordinance they introduced to legalize cannabis businesses, the union was to pressure the council to vote “yes.”
Earlier this month, Adam Spiker declined to speak to The Investigator about this affair citing ongoing “local and federal investigations.” Though we don’t know how he managed to muscle his way into the arrangement the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce made with UFCW Local 324, the Orange County Register reported in May 2022 he had been in close contact with both Ament and Flint.