Nick Sarnicola, hired earlier this year as president of Portland marijuana company Cura Cannabis, has left the troubled business as it works to complete its sale to a Massachusetts firm.
His departure is the latest upheaval at the Portland company – also known as Select Oil – which has endured a series of setbacks. In May, Cura agreed to sell to a Massachusetts company for nearly $1 billion but that deal has lost two-thirds of its value in the intervening months.
Previously, Sarnicola had been CEO of a Michigan company called ViSalus, which peddled protein powder and weight-loss products through a network of promoters in a practice known as multilevel marketing.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported in September that Sarnicola and ViSalus had settled multiple lawsuits that alleged the firm operated a “pyramid scheme” defrauding its network of distributors. ViSalus is also facing a $925 million court judgment in Oregon over placing nearly 2 million illegal robocalls.
Asked in an electronic message for details on his exit from Cura, Sarnicola replied only, “Yes…I left because … you’re an idiot who has no life.” Cura did not respond to a request for comment.
Above: Nick Sarnicola
Cura’s current CEO is Cameron Forni, the son of a wealthy Oregon hotel executive. Forni, who now lives in Nevada, once worked as an apprentice at ViSalus and is a longtime associate of Sarnicola and other ViSalus executives.
Privately held Cura is in the process of selling its Select brand of recreational marijuana products to Massachusetts-based Curaleaf. When they announced the deal in May, the all-stock deal was worth nearly $1 billion and the companies boasted it was the largest transaction ever in the recreational marijuana industry. They trumpeted it as a signal of the market’s potential.
Curaleaf’s shares have plunged in the intervening months, however, and