See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

State stops Wild Bill's owner from opening weed dispensaries, citing 'moral character' 

click to enlarge STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling

Michigan’s largest tobacco retailer tried to create a mammoth marijuana dispensary chain, but the state blocked the move, citing the owner’s “moral character.”

Troy-based Wild Bill’s Tobacco filed applications for 38 licenses to open cannabis dispensaries in Adrian, Bangor, Battle Creek, Bay City, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Sturgis and Walled Lake, Crain’s Detroit Business first reported. The company also applied to launch growing operations in Bangor and Lansing.

Wild Bill’s co-owner Mazin Samona and his in-house attorney Paul Weisberger formed Oasis LLC in hopes of opening a large marijuana dispensary chain.

The now-defunct Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation board denied their applications after the "consideration of the integrity, moral character and reputation of the applicant" and because Samona’s criminal history was not disclosed.

Samona’s rap sheet included convictions of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Detroit in 1981, several counts of assault by physical menace involving prostitutes in New Jersey in 1998, and falsifying a birth certificate using a fictitious name to obtain a driver’s license, Crain’s reported, citing state records.

However, a representative for Samona tells Metro Times that Samona pled guilty to one count of disorderly person, and some of those cases have been expunged.

The representative says Medical Marijuana Regulation board approved applications for other co-owners of Wild Bill's, and Oasis appealed the denial to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The judge ruled in favor of Oasis, stating the group "is clearly and convincingly qualified and suitable for licensing" on the grounds the offenses were many years ago and Samona has operated Wild Bill’s with no issues for more than 15 years.

The pair paid $228,000 in nonrefundable fees for the applications.

Updated Friday, Sept. 13: This story was updated with additional information from Samona's representative.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 20, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation