'Permit Patty' quits cannabis company over video fallout

A cannabis plant
A cannabis plant
By Jessica Spitz and Karin Roberts with NBC News U.S. News
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Alison Ettel, CEO of TreatWell Health, stepped down after at least six marijuana businesses cut ties over Ettel's threat to an 8-year-old black girl.


The chief executive of TreatWell Health, a California company that produces cannabis-based tinctures and edibles, resigned on Tuesday after at least six marijuana businesses cut ties with TreatWell to protest the CEO's threat to call the police on an 8-year-old black girl selling water without a permit.

The CEO, Alison Ettel of San Francisco, who is white, agreed to quit because she believes that "TreatWell, its employees, and patients should not have to suffer because of a situation that occurred in an escalated moment," according to a statement released by a TreatWell spokeswoman, Cynthia Gonzalez.

Ettel became known across the internet as "Permit Patty" after a video taken by the child's mother went viral over the weekend, causing widespread outrage. Ettel told The Huffington Post that she was only pretending to call the police and that she confronted the girl and her mother outside an apartment building on Saturday because they were being too loud, not for any racially motivated reason. A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department confirmed that no complaint was made.

Many viewers circulating the video on social media called on marijuana dispensaries to boycott TreatWell, which combines marijuana plant extracts with coconut oil to produce tinctures that are said to relieve pain in pets and humans. In response, several companies issued statements saying that they would no longer sell TreatWell's products.

"TreatWell was one of our best-selling products but to us, integrity is always before profits," Magnolia, a dispensary based in Oakland, California, wrote in an Instagram post. "For our remaining inventory, we are doing blowout deals and donating all proceeds to a local nonprofit."

Courtesy Erin Austin
Alison Ettel stepped down as CEO of TreatWell Health on Tuesday.Courtesy Erin Austin

The dispensaries Bloom Room, Apothecarium and Green Trees Wellness also agreed to stop selling TreatWell products. Herb, a cannabis delivery service, and Ganjly, a marijuana news and review site, also cut ties with Ettel's company.

Following the incident, Ettel told "Today" that she had asked the girl, Jordan Rodgers, and her mother, Erin Austin, repeatedly to keep their voices down. But Austin denied this, stating that Ettel "directly demanded to see a permit to sell water from an 8-year-old."Ettel told "Today" that she had received hate mail and death threats since the video went viral and would like the chance to apologize to the young girl and her mother.

The TreatWell statement argued that the confrontation did not spring from racist motives."A terrible mistake was made that affected a young girl and her family," Gonzalez said. "It is important to know it was never the intention to disparage, harass or cause any harm to the child, nor her mother. However, in a heated moment, a critically wrong decision was made by our CEO. The guilt lies in that decision, and while it was completely wrong, the act that followed was not motivated by any racist intent whatsoever."

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