Women Grow Portland Chapter Co-chair Embroiled in Disputes and Lawsuits

Leah Maurer - Image: The Weed Blog
Leah Maurer – Image: The Weed Blog

Leah Maurer – Image: The Weed Blog
By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
1-25-2016 6:00PM (updated 1-26-2016 6:45PM)

A newly-formed cannabis business networking group called Women Grow has burst onto the national scene and opened chapters across the country in the past year, but allegations in multiple lawsuits against one of their Oregon leaders raises questions about the new organization’s own leadership.

The organization’s Portland Oregon Co-Chair, Leah Maurer, has been named in a multi-million dollar lawsuit recently filed by Randy Quast, a wealthy trucking businessman and a board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) — the country’s oldest marijuana legalization group. Also, Ms. Maurer and Women Grow were sent a Cease and Desist order from The Weed Blog owners to stop claiming ownership of their website. Her husband, not she, owns minority shares, but that is also in dispute because The Weed Blog sued Travis Maurer to remove him from the company, alleging he was using their bank account for his personal expenses to the tune of $51,000 dollars.

Women Grow Portland Oregon chapter meetingWomen Grow Portland Oregon chapter meeting

We reached out to Women Grow for a response to the allegations in the lawsuits and Ms. Maurers ownership claims of the weed blog. We were interested if she would be involved in the coming big money “Leadership Summit” in Denver February 3rd thru 5th, and still be speaking. We received this statement from their Public Relations Director, Sarah Grossman:

“Women Grow takes allegations of members’ professional misconduct seriously. We continue to monitor the claims involving Leah Maurer.”

The Quast suit alleges that Ms. Maurer, along with her husband Travis, bilked Quast out of almost a million dollars over the past year, for the claimed purpose of opening a dispensary and marijuana grow operation in Portland, Oregon. The suit explained that, under the business agreement, “ownership of MQH (Holdings) would be held in L. Maurer’s name,” yet Travis Maurer, Leah’s husband, was allowed to write and sign checks for the business, many of which were allegedly for non-business and personal expenses.

R to Left - Randy, Russ, Keith, and Neill
(R to L) Randy Quast with Russ Belville of The Russ Belville Show, Keith Stroup of NORML, and Neill Franklin of LEAP Image: Russ Belville.

The lawsuit states: “L. Maurer, as a member of MQH, maintained complete control over MQH bank accounts and provided T. Maurer access to the bank account check book, in violation of her agreement with Quast.”

The lawsuit alleges that the Maurers committed fraud by not fulfilling their obligations under the agreement, committed slander and libel against Mr, Quast, breached their contract, and misrepresented themselves to Mr. Quast, all along. Maurer also was to transfer shares of The Weed Blog to Quast as collateral for a loan, but his lawsuit alleges he didn’t have authority to do that under the TWB operating agreement. Mr. Quast is seeking millions in the suit for damages and restoration.

Women Grow has been a project of Leah Maurer for many months, and those filing lawsuits are wondering if the money from their ventures with Travis and Leah ended up in the Women Grow coffers to help get the fledgling organization get off the ground. With hundreds of thousand of dollars apparently unaccounted for in multiple lawsuits, that may very well be the case.

Kaliko Castille of The Weed Blog and Kaliko Vision (TM) Image: Kaliko Castille
Kaliko Castille of The Weed Blog and Kaliko Vision (TM) Image: Kaliko Castille

“Travis used the Weed Blog bank account as a slush fund to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in two and a half months to pay personal expenses,” said Kaliko Castille, The Weed Blog’s former ad salesman who was privy to most of the alleged shenanigans. “Most of it was transferred into his personal bank accounts, so we have no way of knowing what it was spent on.”

The Women Grow Portland chapter launched in the Spring of last year while the Maurers’ were still receiving large amounts of cash from Quast for MQH, so questions about exactly what the money was used for are understandable.

“I suspect some of my money went to fund the lavish, pomped-up, events of Oregon’s Women Grow and mostly to cover the Maurers’ previous personal debts,” Quast explained to the Oregon Cannabis Connection.

The Weed Blog is ardently pointing out that Leah Maurer is not an owner of their business and that her claims of ownership are misrepresentations at best, but likely fraudulent in the manner that she has been “selling” her involvement. The Women Grow website lists Maurer as co-owner of The Weed Blog on her biography as a Women Grow leader, and on their upcoming events page for their Leadership Summit in Denver.

**UPDATE** Women Grow has updated their website and removed reference of Leah Maurers ownership of The Weed Blog and removed reference to her involvement in opening a dispensary.

TWB logo

Even more troubling are the email letters that she has been sending out to scrape together even more money from unsuspecting investors. In one of the emails received by OCC, Leah Maurer made numerous false claims to try and convince a unwitting investor that she and her husband were suitable partners. In it, she claimed to be owner of The Weed Blog, to have given $1,000,000 to the Oregon legalization efforts, “and [to] have a tremendous media platform because my husband and I were the force behind legalization in Oregon.Google: Travis Maurer marijuana, and Leah Maurer marijuana.” (see the full email text and a link to email image at the end of this article).

Donations made to New Approach Oregon and the Yes on 91 campaigns are a matter of public record. Oregon campaign finance records don’t back up any claim that Leah or Travis donated anything close to a million dollars. While the mainstream media has mistakenly called Travis Maurer the “mastermind” of the Measure 91 campaign, many longtime activists and those that worked on the campaign have told me that this media creation is really a public relations myth; it certainly discounts the work of many other advocates.

Lori Duckworth, one of Oregon’s staunchest marijuana patient advocates, board member of Compassionate Oregon, founder of S.O. NORML and a longtime Oregon activist and leader (and occasional columnist for OCC), will be attending the event in Leadership Summit in Denver. She said:

I consider the WG chapter in Portland to be one of the most diverse groups of women to display professionalism in the cannabis movement. Leah Maurer is just one of hundreds of women involved in the organization. There will always be dysfunction in every industry and ours is no exception. I believe when the facts are revealed, Leah will make the best decision regarding her position within WG, for herself and the future.

Misrepresentation is all too common in the marijuana industry, which is bad. Taking that to the level of fraud, defamation, negligence, breach of contract, and more, is terrible. But, using your unwarranted and misrepresented notoriety from a successful blog you don’t own, and a marijuana legalization campaign you didn’t really fund, while doing it, is incredulous.

– See more at: http://www.occnewspaper.com/?q=WomenGrowLMaurer#sthash.lf3a255d.dpuf

Keith Mansur

Keith Mansur is the founder, publisher, and editor of Oregon Cannabis Connection newspaper. The print publication has been serving Oregon since 2010. He has been a Oregon medical marijuana patient, grower, and caregiver since 2006. Find him on Facebook or email him at occnewspaper420@gmail.com

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