DENVER MARCH 25: Pete Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Medicine Man, is in marijuana growing room. Denver, Colorado. March 25. 2014. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Medicine Man: Family’s bonds showing strains as business evolves (series)

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Andy was tired and worn down. He and his wife are going through a divorce and his health was poor. Andy says he suffered blackouts and was hospitalized three times in recent weeks, the result of low blood oxygen and an elevated heart rate. He has since improved.

“I think illness has a lot to do with the spirit,” he says. “It just manifests itself somehow. I was down for a while. The divorce. I got sick. I was working my ass off and I just did not feel good.”

Andy says he is proud of what Medicine Man has become and enjoys his work, but it is not what defines him. He feels pulled to new challenges, always has, and began to plan for the drum company.

“There is a little bit of vanity in me,” he says. “I want to be known as one of the pioneers in this industry. And if I got out now, it might not be written that way. If I stayed in, maybe I would.”

A conference call was arranged between prospective buyer and seller.

From the beginning, Andy says he was skeptical about the deal because of Colorado’s two-year residency requirements for ownership.

Brian Vicente, a Denver lawyer who co-authored Amendment 64, said his firm has helped structure several deals for legitimate out-of-state investment, including loans and convertible notes that transfer ownership once residency is established. Colorado law, he notes, prevents out-of-state residents from owning an equity stake, but not from investing.

Vicente estimates that more than one-third and perhaps closer to half of Colorado marijuana businesses have out-of-state investors.

Cannabist Q&A: Fielding queries from readers about all marijuana matters

The conference call did not go well.

In Pete’s view, Andy was too aggressive, bordering on belligerent, essentially saying, “Here is my offer, take it or leave it.”

“He was stern when he didn’t need to be stern,” Pete says. “Andy was a jerk in the meeting and I think that turned them off.”

Within a few days, the deal had fallen through.

The Williams say they are not sure exactly why. Andy says Ehrlich “didn’t blink” at the asking price, but he didn’t make an offer, either.

A publicist for Ehrlich said he was out of the country and unavailable to comment.

Andy says he understands where Pete is coming from, but doesn’t think his tone had anything to do with what happened.

“My brother thinks I’m a tyrant,” Andy says. “But when it comes to business, it’s about numbers. It doesn’t matter if I was a jerk or not a jerk.”

The Williams siblings agreed in advance that if the deal did not happen, they would put their differences behind them and move on for the well-being of Medicine Man and the family invested in it.

For Andy, that means putting his heart back into building the Costco of weed, which was the plan all along.

For Pete, it means hoping the reality show materializes and putting off, at least for now, some of his grander visions.

For Sally, it means continuing to watch her brothers closely.

“I wrangle my brothers on a daily basis,” she says. “They are both looking at shiny objects all the time and I am trying to have them focus on what needs to be done day-to-day.”

Pete concedes that he can be too trusting of others and that Andy can be a good check on behavior that may hurt him or the business.

But he also thinks he knows better than his brother that standard business decisions don’t always work when the business is marijuana.

“We have a really good family, where you can argue, but you can let it go, too,” Pete says. “Very rarely will we come to a point where we disagree so much that there is not a compromise in the middle.

“We’re usually on the same main road. Every once in a while, we want to take different branches.”

Eric Gorski: 303-954-1971, or

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