Fresno faces quandary in weed process as ex-CEO of major retailer charged with fraud

The former CEO of a major cannabis firm could muddy the waters for Fresno’s dispensary licensing process due to felony charges filed by Bay Area prosecutors.

As the City of Fresno moves through the process to award retail cannabis permits in the wake of a heated appeal hearing two weeks ago, one of the top candidates post-appeal could be in violation of the city’s cannabis rules. 

Authentic 559, a brand of California cannabis company Shryne Group, placed third in the city’s scoring process out of District 1 applicants, just missing out on the first round of preliminary approvals in September.


Two of Authentic 559’s applications rose to notoriety thanks to its local partner, former MLB pitcher and Clovis resident Matt Garza.

Shryne is best known for its exceedingly popular Stiiizy product line.

With Fresno lawmakers upholding an appeal on second-place The Artist Tree, the door has opened for Authentic 559 and the two other District 1 applicants – Catalyst Highway 99 and Crescent Conquest – to compete for permits. 

A potential problem for Authentic 559 lies with co-owner Brian Mitchell, the former CEO of Shryne Group who is facing felony charges in court. 

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged Mitchell with one count of conspiracy to commit a crime, six counts of felony insurance fraud and two counts of workers’ compensation fraud in September for his involvement with a Bay Area painting and construction company. 

Mitchell pleaded not guilty to the charges, but resigned from his position with Shryne Group.

If Mitchell is convicted of the charges, his involvement with Authentic 559 and Authentic Fresno – another Shryne Group dispensary that was awarded a license in northeast Fresno – could quickly muddy the waters with Fresno’s city ordinance. 

In the applications, Mitchell is listed as a 14.25 percent owner of Authentic 559 and a 29 percent owner of Authentic Fresno. 

Fresno’s municipal code states that an applicant or licensee’s conviction of fraud would be grounds for the denial of a retail cannabis permit. 

Shryne Group did not respond to an inquiry from The Sun regarding Mitchell’s involvement with Authentic 559 and Authentic Fresno. 

However, Fresno’s cannabis ordinance prohibits ownership transfer during the application process, signaling the potential of Mitchell’s continued involvement with the dispensaries.

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