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“Permit Patty” Steps Down as CEO of Cannabis Company

Activist meme #permitpatty prompts TreatWell CEO to step down after retailers sever ties with the CBD edibles and tinctures company.

Adam Drury

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"Permit Patty" Steps Down as CEO of Cannabis Company
Erin Austin/ Instagram

Alison Ettel, now better known as “Permit Patty,” has announced that she is stepping down as CEO of TreatWell Health, a cannabis company specializing in CBD edibles and tinctures.

Ettel’s announcement comes just days after a video of her reporting an 8-year-old girl to the police for “selling water without a permit” went viral on Instagram, prompting widespread outrage and condemnation. The move is an effort to recover the business TreatWell has already lost over the incident and prevent the company from losing even more clients as the video continues to generate anger on social media.

TreatWell CEO Resigns Amid Outrage Over “Permit Patty” Video

Erin Austin, the mother of the young water-selling entrepreneur, had some prophetic words for Alison Ettel as the TreatWell CEO attempted to duck behind a wall after realizing she was on camera during her call with San Francisco police.

“You can hide all you want. The whole world gonna see you, boo,” Austin told Ettel. And by Wednesday, they had.

Austin’s video of Ettel calling police on her daughter has so far generated more than a million views and thousands of angry comments.

And that’s because the video shows Ettel attempting to get police to shut down the 8-year-old girl’s water stand. The young girl, Jordan Rodgers, was selling bottled water to raise money for a family trip to Disneyland. Her mother had just lost her job.

But from Ettel’s perspective, Jordan was breaking the law for “illegally selling water without a permit.” And the day after Austin posted the video to Instagram, #permitpatty was already trending.

Unimpressed by the fact that the CEO of a successful cannabis company would call the police on an 8-year-old entrepreneur, vendors of TreatWell products immediately began distancing themselves from Ettel.

So far, six cannabis retailers have dropped their contracts with Ettel. The first company to do so, an Oakland dispensary called Magnolia Wellness, has been selling off their remaining TreatWell edibles and tinctures at a deep discount. They’re also donating all proceeds from those sales to a non-profit benefiting young entrepreneurs of color.

Many View TreatWell CEO’s Actions as Racist

With backlash against Ettel and TreatWell mounting, Ettel resigned from her position as chief executive of the company on Tuesday. According to TreatWell spokesperson Cynthia Gonzalez, Ettel decided to step down to shield the company and its employees from the consequences of her actions.

“TreatWell, its employees, and patients should not have to suffer because of a situation that occurred in an escalated moment,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

But many are saying that the “escalated moment” was the result of Ettel’s racism. Jordan Rodgers, the 8-year-old girl who was selling water, is black. Alison Ettel is white.

Erin Austin’s Instagram post immediately drew the connection between Ettel’s calling the police and the “BBQ Becky” video that went viral in March. “BBQ Becky” refers to the white woman who called Oakland police on a black family for barbecuing in a park area supposedly off-limits to grilling.

The similarities between the two incidents were undeniable for many viewers of Austin’s video, who began calling Ettel out for also being racist.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live even took their shots at Ettel with a parody sketch featuring actor Cecily Strong. Now utterly vilified for her actions, it’s unclear whether Ettel’s resignation can keep TreatWell afloat.

Vendors Drop TreatWell Products, While Jordan and Her Family Get Tickets To Disneyland

Ettel recently told The Huffington Post that racism did not motivate her to call the police. In fact, Ettel claims she was only pretending to call the police to get the attention of Jordan and her mother.

San Fransisco police are corroborating that part of the story. They say they did not receive a complaint about anyone selling water illegally.

Ettel says she repeatedly asked Jordan and her mother to quiet down. She said their “sales pitch” was too loud and preventing Ettel from doing business inside her apartment.

Ettel has since apologized and said she’s not proud about the incident. She also said she’s receiving thousands of hateful messages and threats online. Austin says she is not prepared to accept Ettel’s apology.

In addition to Magnolia Wellness, five other companies will no longer do business with TreatWell. Though it’s unclear whether Ettel’s stepping down as CEO will prompt them to reconsider.

Jordan is still selling water bottles to raise money for her family. But after news of her efforts made the rounds on social media, Jordan and her family received four tickets to Disneyland from a “good samaritan”.

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