The exterior of Perfect Plants Patient’s Group on Sacramento Street. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel

A new medical cannabis collective has opened up on Sacramento Street near Oregon, bringing to two the number of groups that are operating in a commercial district in apparent violation of Berkeley’s zoning ordinances.

Perfect Plant Patient’s Group, or 3PGs, opened its doors in early September at 2840B Sacramento St., according to Eric Thomas, 35, a former highway construction worker turned cannabis entrepreneur. The non-profit cannabis collective operates in three counties, runs a delivery service, and is planning to open another bricks and mortar operation in Vallejo, he said. The group had to shut down its El Sobrante location in late July because it was located in unincorporated Contra Costa County, which has a ban on cannabis operations.

After getting kicked out of El Sobrante, Thomas called around to various East Bay cities to find out about their medical cannabis laws and selected Berkeley because it “seemed the most organized,” he said. Thomas and his partners also had conversations with City Councilmember Kriss Worthington’s office about relocating here and felt encouraged to do so. (Worthington’s office did not tell the group to locate in a commercial area, said Thomas.)

It is difficult to tell that the Perfect Plant Patients group storefront is a cannabis collective. The windows are covered with black garbage bags so no one can see inside and a “No Trespassing” sign is propped up against the window. The black metal mesh door into the three-room space is almost opaque.

Thomas is aware that the storefront sits in a commercial district and may be violating Berkeley’s zoning laws, which require collectives to operate in residential areas. Only the city’s three licensed dispensaries can operate in a commercial district. Thomas said he will move if he has to, but thinks that it is less disruptive to be located in the strip of small stores on Sacramento Street than among people’s homes.

“As far as operating out of a commercial building, I made that decision based on one thing,” said Thomas. “I didn’t want to be disrupting a residential neighborhood. To bring in 100 people into someone’s neighborhood throughout the day isn’t logical. It puts a strain on the neighborhood.”

Another medical cannabis collective, Forty Acres, operates from a set of rooms over the Albatross pub on San Pablo Avenue near University. That is also a commercial district.

The city of Berkeley is aware of both collectives and has had some meetings to discuss the situation, according to Elizabeth Greene, a city planner who acts as the secretary to the Medical Cannabis Commission.

But the precise nature of the city’s response to the collectives is not clear. Berkeleyside has sent numerous emails and made many phone calls to city officials asking why the cannabis collectives are being permitted to operate in commercial areas, but has not gotten a response. Berkeleyside has also asked why Forty Acres was turned down when it applied for a business license so it could pay taxes to the city.

A sign warning against drug dealing near the location of a new medical cannabis collective

The city’s hands-off attitude may encourage more and more collectives to set up shop in the city, a member of one of Berkeley’s three licensed dispensaries said in September.

“If word gets out you can open a dispensary in Berkeley by not calling it a dispensary, we will have a 100 opening just like in San Jose,” said the man. “When everybody finds out Berkeley is open season, there is going to be mayhem. My worry is we are going to have a Wild Wild West kind of thing.

Neighbors are also worried. Laura Menard, a vocal neighborhood activist, sent an email October 15 to the city manager’s office and copied it to numerous Berkeley officials.

“Over the last few weeks residents have noticed increased drug sales and public use of marijuana by adults and minors in the area of Sacramento and Oregon Streets.”

Menard continued:”Yesterday we watched a group of middle school aged kids smoking pot in front of Spiral Gardens — the smell was strong enough to be noticed a block away.

“We witnessed people knock and gain entrance to 2840B Sacramento Street, a business with no signage just instructions posted on the door explaining how to gain entry. We saw a bike messenger leave the shop heading up Oregon Street. I have seen numerous hand-to-hand sales in the area on my way walking to Berkeley Bowl West. There is a new group of people dealing drugs in the area unfamiliar to local merchants and residents.”

Later in the email Menard wrote: “Sacramento Street residents and merchants have worked long and hard to rid the area of drug sales, public consumption, and the crime associated with illegal drug sales. Considerable city resources have been spent in abatement proceedings and police enforcement operations for decades. The building is tagged in a few places with gang graffiti: BB, for Borders Brothers.”

3PGs got its start in 2009 in Monterey County. Thomas and his family had been operating a highway construction company and working with major contractors like Thomas & Pratt and Ghilloti Brothers. The recession hit hard and left their company with $800,000 in accounts receivable, he said. Thomas sunk into a depression that doctors tried to treat with a variety of anti-depressants, he said. The drugs only made things worse so he tried medical cannabis. It lifted his mood.

Eric Thomas, who runs Perfect Plants Patient’s Group, with his binder full of legal and tax documents

Thomas joined the Monterey County Collective and then took over a leadership position, expanding its operations to 2,000 members across three counties — Solano, Contra Costa and Alameda. Each member pays a $30 annual membership fee, he said, and then “contributes” to the collective for their share of medical cannabis. He runs the Sacramento Street store with his nephew, Andrew Thomas, 20.

Thomas said he is legal and transparent. He brought a thick white binder stuffed with tax and licensing documents to a meeting with this reporter and was willing to share everything. The state Board of Equalization has granted 3PGs licenses to operate in three counties. Thomas even disclosed that he had paid $12,480 in taxes to California since April 2011.

“We are a legitimate business,” he said. “We have nothing to hide. We are a 501c3 (a non-profit) and shouldn’t even be paying taxes. But we want the community to benefit. We are here to better our surrounding citizens and cities.”

Related:
Rapid growth of cannabis collective raises concern [09.29.11]
Does new cannabis body provide more accountability? [07.20.11]
Berkeley loses money as cannabis commission idles [05.25.11] 

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in one place, in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our recently launched All the News grid.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...

110 replies on “Concerns raised about new medical cannabis collective”

  1. B-Side fails to moderate until I demand they stop John Holland and this is how they frame my request that they stop Holland from placing me in danger.

  2. We are closing comments on this story because we feel the thread has run its course. Two commenters in particular have agreed to move their exchange off Berkeleyside.  

  3. Laura wrote:

    Readers should know that John declined, claiming I am fair game because I wrote the letter to city council which Francis quoted in her article.

    This is a lie. A bold-faced lie and an utter fabrication.

    I have NEVER, EVER claimed that Laura is “fair game”. That’s horrible to say.

    Please take it back.

    Thanks!

  4. Ryan, don’t get involved in a “discussion” with Thomas Lord (aka “Bruce Love”).
    All he’ll do is ring-around-the-issue with scads of mostly-irrelevant information so that he can be as contrarian as possible. It’s not worth the aggravation.

  5. Ryan,

    Re: “It is important to me because it is around the corner from me [….]”.  Then we probably live within 2-4 blocks of one another.  That intersection is a very short walk from where I am, to give you some sense.

    On a civics matter: 

    I cannot countenance this behavior and don’t think we can selectively choose not to enforce city laws because we should give violators a chance to prove it shouldn’t apply to them, or whatever you might be suggesting here.

    You can’t say the city is “selectively [choosing] not to enforce city
    laws” just because they haven’t rushed to file suit in a legally
    complex situation. Shutting them down involuntarily will normally involve a civil court action in which the owners will have the right to defend themselves and negotiate remedies with the court. You can not assume that the city will even be able to shut them down if the collective is able to operate without being a “de facto dispensary”.

  6. Frances… I just posted my recent comment before I saw this note from you. I’m happy to stop engaging on here as well if you think it’s inappropriate. It does seem like comments to this article (nice job on the article, by the way) have gotten a little out of hand. Please do let me know. Thanks!

  7. This comment string has become so long that I scarcely know where to reply to.

    In response to Bruce Love:

    I have a few points I want to touch on.

    “First, evidently this place has been operating for a short while with
    the knowledge of many people in the neighborhood.  It is only after it
    came to the attention of a subset of nearby businesses and neighbors
    that it became such a hot political issue. ”

    I can’t speak for others as I only became aware of the business recently. It is important to me because it is around the corner from me and therefore affects me much more directly than those who live in, say, North Berkeley. That, and drugs are being sold near a middle school at which folks in our neighborhood ostensibly have children attending.

    “If I’m correct that the hyper-local sentiment towards this place is
    slightly more ambivalent than discussions here might suggest, then it’s
    not especially sinister if the City is a bit slow and cautious in
    responding.”

    That’s a big assumption. All either of us can point to is anecdotal evidence on this one, and neither you nor I can win a debate on anecdotal evidence. All I can say is that I’m nearby, I’m concerned and some other people I’ve talked to are as well.

    And, I’m afraid that I have to be a bit binary here on the city’s response. The city should definitely proceed through proper channels, but I don’t understand the need for extraordinary patience here. The establishment is violating at least one city law, which I will assume was validly enacted with a legal motive. The owner of the establishment located to the area with the full knowledge that doing so was illegal. I cannot countenance this behavior and don’t think we can selectively choose not to enforce city laws because we should give violators a chance to prove it shouldn’t apply to them, or whatever you might be suggesting here.

    I take issue with selective enforcement. I would like to know the history of how the city has treated similar establishments in other areas. In other words, is this business being treated differently, with respect to adherence to city laws, than other similarly situated businesses in different neighborhoods within Berkeley? I’d particularly be curious to see the contrast with economically prosperous neighborhoods, if any data is in fact available.

    “Here, in contrast, we have a sleepy, low-rent, low-traffic, economically
    depressed retail corridor so those non-official checks and balances are
    correspondingly much lower.”

    This seems to argue my point for me. If there are less official checks and balances by nature of the neighborhood’s economic position, it may very well be incumbent upon citizens like myself to ensure the city does its duty as it would in a high-rent, high-traffic, economically prosperous neighborhood. Citizens of poor and sleepy areas deserve equal protection under the law. We must sometimes serve as the checks and balances.

    “I sure hope the city is taking a deliberate, deliberative, and cautious
    approach to making sure they understand what is actually going on
    rather than reflexively asking “how high” when Laura says “jump”.  
    Let’s see where we are in a few weeks or 3 months.”

    I can see how you want to scapegoat Laura here, but she is not the issue. Are you implying that the rest of us are not capable or intelligent enough to form our own conclusions and are all falling in line behind Laura like lemmings? Laura’s voice is not the only voice here. I have formed my own independent view on this situation, which yes, happens to coincide Largely with Laura’s, but which was formed independently of Laura. As for timing, I’m willing to let the city take some time to hash this out, so long as it is a reasonable amount of time and they are in fact evaluating the situation and not turning a blind eye.

  8. Readers should know that John declined claiming I am fair game because I wrote the letter to city council which Francis quoted in her article.

    I am sick of bullies.

  9. Thanks Francis, as you know I asked you for help on this problem, since I had already recommended such to John. His hyperfocus and demands that I continue to justify casual comments are questionable. Why not blog about SF Chronicle editor Bronstein contention that dispensaries serve as access for recreational use.

    I avoided engaging, but he continued to demand a response.

    This is yet another example of why people do not volunteer to organize their neighborhoods.

    BL writes a long explanation about this neighborhood and yet has never been to a single meeting we had for over a decade.

    I make the obvious statement that a lucrative drug market attract violent crime and that recreational pot users are increasing using med pot cards for access and I am subjected to this kind of scrutiny.

    Lastly, I was a legitmate caregiver of a seriously disabled family member and spoke at the medical cannabis commission about the problems low income disabled encounter obtaining their medications. My comments were taken seriously and one compassionate commissioner spent time drafting some recommendations to remedy the problems, which i understand have not been implemented yet.

  10. Glad to see an “official” response, residents and merchants from the affected area did not receive such a courtesy.

  11. Now we’re getting somewhere!

    I’m not sure which assertion you are trying to support with these three links. It certainly couldn’t be the claim that “Shootings are not uncommon at grow sites, during transport, and at low security dispensaries and collectives, as dispensary shootings are extremely uncommon, to the point of being irrelevant.

    Since my next blog post is titled “Are there plenty of national studies with findings that a majority of medical cannabis users are recreational users?”, I’m going to guess that this is the question you were trying to address with those three links.

    Previously, Laura wrote:

    “It is well documented that the majority of customers are recreation[al] users.” – Laura Menard

    and

    “There are plenty of national surveys as well.” – Laura Menard

    First, we are trying to prove three things about each survey:

    1. A sound research methodology which concludes that a majority of medical cannabis users are recreational users. (Implying certainty)

    2. It’s a “national” survey. (Implying a named, trusted source)

    3. There are “plenty” of them. (Implying a high-volume of independent studies that corroborate the same findings)

    Without further ado, let’s look at each of your sources, and see if they support your claim, or if it sounds like maybe it was made up, as I believe.

    The first “national survey” you provided is not a survey, but a presentation to the California Chiefs of Police Association called “Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Associated Issues“.

    1. Research and findings: 

    This “survey” barely mentions recreational usage, let alone study it. The word “recreational” appears only three times in the 48 page document. There is only one statistic regarding recreational users in the document, and it is an anecdotal estimate. 

    “She estimated that seventy percent of the club’s buyers were patients from the Oakland co-op, and that the other **thirty percent** were recreational users.”

    No where in this “survey” does is there a finding that a majority of users are recreational users.

    FAIL.

    2. “National” survey. First off, there isn’t a survey, let alone a “national” one. But there’s plenty more to trash about it. It’s authorless and without a date. Where did it come from? Who wrote it? Some cop in his bedroom? The Mayo clinic? Some loser like me living in my mom’s basement?

    FAIL

    3. “Plenty” of surveys: 

    Running count 0/1

    FAIL

    The second “survey” you link to is not a survey, but an article about the “Ogden memo” entitled “Medical marijuana: The Justice Department speaks – again“.  

    The article cites two studies, but it does not mention them by name. I was able to find the first study, so we can look at it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t the second study anywhere, so we’ll have to go with the quote from the article.

    1. Research and findings:

    The first study cited in this article is called “Long term marijuana users seeking medical cannabis in California (2001–2007): demographics, social characteristics, patterns of cannabis and other drug use of 4117 applicants”

    There is no mention of medical vs. recreational use in this study. (By the way, this study is highly supportive of medical cannabis.)

    The second study in this article is briefly cited with no mention of medical vs. recreational use.

    DOUBLE FAIL

    2. “National” survey:

    The first study was conducted by one doctor and a consultant in California. However, it appears to be the largest study to get attention, though it is rarely cited by name.

    FAIL? You’re, losing so bad, I’ll give you this one:

    GRATUITOUS WIN!!

    3. “Plenty” of studies: Neither study said anything about medical vs. recreational usage. 

    Running count so far: 0/3

    FAIL

    The third “survey” you link to is not a study, but an article (I’m beginning to detect a pattern here) called, “Medical marijuana – lost in the haze of state law” 

    Once again, it’s a red herring, as we’ll see below.

    1. Research and findings:

    This article includes no estimate on the number of medical vs. recreational users.

    FAIL

    2. “National” survey:

    There’s no “study” cited so how do I even evaluate this?

    FAIL

    3. “Plenty” of national studies:

    Running count: 0/4

    FAIL

    So far, we still have zero, goose egg, national surveys that find a majority of medical cannabis users are recreational users.

    Laura wrote: 

    “Data in California is hard to collect since the state does not require registration just a doctor’s note to gain entry to local dispensaries. Other states have better data collection.”

    That’s odd. Before you said there were “plenty of studies”. Now you say good data is hard to come by. I’m confused.

    Laura wrote: 

    “Send an email to drug policy expert Mark Kleiman at UCLA he is likely to be knowledgeable of other recent studies specific to CA medical and recreational marijuana usage.”

    Then maybe YOU might want to email him. The onus is on you, and so far, you’ve produced NOTHING to support your claim that “It is well documented that the majority of customers are recreation users.” and that “There are plenty of national surveys as well.” Maybe he could help you. Personally, I doubt it, because I believe it’s made up.

    My face is blue. Focus.. focus… I’ll ask again (how many times has it been now?): 

    Can you link us to one… just one… “national survey” that finds that a majority of medical cannabis users are recreational users. Of course, this wouldn’t prove your greater claim of “plenty of national studies”, but at least it would help save a little face.

    Personally, I still believe it’s made up. Who wouldn’t at this point?

  12. John,

    I spent a few minutes search for robberies at MM clubs and found plenty of stuff,  I am pasting a link to one report I did read a few years ago.
    Check out the section from Berkeley.

    http://www.californiapolicechiefs.org/files/marijuana_files/files/CCOP_Presentation_01.pdf

    Sorry I really do not have the time now to search for the links to news stories and other sources referring to various survey and estimates about how many MM dispensary card holders are recreational users.

    As I stated in previous posts about MM, I was a legitimate caregiver for a seriously ill family member whose need was credible,  so I have personal experience in how the system treats low income disabled folks in Berkeley, it was very mixed.

  13. Laura wrote: “I get it, your aim is personal.”
    Seriously? This isn’t personal; I don’t even know you. In fact, the little that I do know about you from participating on Berkeleyside, I really like you. I don’t have a problem with you at all!

    However, I do have a big problem with stories that harm sick people either by intention, or indifference. And, I’d like to turn our attention back to these stories.

    You’ve now made four assertions that I believe are made up; I’ve called them out clearly, no need to reiterate them here. I’m happy to drop this continuous loop right now, and just agree together that these are claims you personally believe to be true, but you see no need to substantiate them with data. That is fair, but not very persuasive.

    And, if there is evidence to back up these claims, please share it with the rest of us, as we are all ears. Now would be good, because people are growing weary of me asking for evidence, and fear I won’t go away until some materializes.

    I’m especially interested in the many national studies you mentioned with regards to the use of marijuana by medical and recreational users. Can you throw us a bone, and link us to just one national study? Do you remember any titles of these surveys? Who conducted them?

    Bueller? …Bueller? …Bueller?

  14. Response received from Jesse Arruguin’s office to complaint about the collective.  I have no opinion on his response, just forwarding it for purposes of this discussion:

    Hi [redacted], thank you for your email. Several other Berkeley
    residents have emailed us as well asking that the City take action to on
    collectives which have been functioning as non-permitted dispensaries, including
    the 3pgs collective on Sacramento and Oregon. My understanding is that the City
    is aware of the operation of this collective in a commercial district and in a
    commercial space, and City staff is looking into the issue to see what
    enforcement action may be needed. Additionally, the City’s Medical Cannabis
    Commission will be discussing the operation of the 3pgs collective and the 40
    Acres Collective at their meeting on Thursday starting at 2 pm on the 6th floor
    of City Hall, 2180 Milvia Street.

    Clearly both 40 Acres and 3pgs are
    functioning as de facto dispensaries and are in violation of the voter approved
    medical marijuana ordinance and the Zoning Ordinance which limits the number of
    dispensaries to 4 in Berkeley and prohibits collectives operating in commercial
    districts. Additionally state law places limits on where dispensaries can be
    sited and prohibits dispensaries being located within a certain radius of
    schools. Given that these two collectives are in violation of the ordinance and
    appear to be functioning more as dispensaries than collectives, the City needs
    to look into the operation of both of these collectives and take action. Either
    they need to move to another location or change their operations.

    I
    believe that we can allow for access to medical marijuana to patients who need
    it while protecting the quality of life of our neighborhoods. I am strongly
    committed to both goals and I will be monitoring the City’s response to the
    operation of these two collectives.

    Thank you and please feel free to
    contact me if you have any questions, concerns or if I can ever be of any
    assistance.

    -Jesse Arreguin
    Type your comment here.

  15. Ryan,  I’d like to speak to your “much greater issue at play here”:

    You wrote:

    Is it just me, or is the main issue here that Berkeley sits idly by and lets this happen because the neighborhood doesn’t have the socioeconomic capital to have its voice heard?

    I don’t buy that explanation.  

    I accept as likely your premise that SW Berkeley has, in some ways, less clout downtown — in part for economic, cultural, and districting reasons.  I don’t think you need that to explain this situation, though.

    First, evidently this place has been operating for a short while with the knowledge of many people in the neighborhood.  It is only after it came to the attention of a subset of nearby businesses and neighbors that it became such a hot political issue.   My conclusion is that objection to a dispensary around here, and concern for strict adherence to the letter of the business and zoning code may be somewhat weaker than you think — and in particular example —  weaker than you might find near Solano.   If I’m correct that the hyper-local sentiment towards this place is slightly more ambivalent than discussions here might suggest, then it’s not especially sinister if the City is a bit slow and cautious in responding.

    Second, in other C-zone areas – at least the ones we usually think of – there are two factors that make it considerably harder to slip in under the radar:   retail districts that are busy and pervaded by intense, natural “community surveillance”;  and high-priced retail spaces owned by landlords who also rent nearby to very demanding tenants.   If the long-vacant space in question were on Solano, and two fellas (one in a tie) stood outside, chatted, shook hands and parted — a dozen people would likely notice immediately.   If a stranger to the neighborhood walked up, unlocked the door and let himself in — he’d have a dozen nosy visitors, right quick.   And if a landlord made nervous some of his cash-cow tenants, there’d be daemons of hell to lull back to sleep.   Here, in contrast, we have a sleepy, low-rent, low-traffic, economically depressed retail corridor so those non-official checks and balances are correspondingly much lower.

    I don’t want to dwell on this next bit but you say:

    the power to fight back without extraordinary organizing efforts like those led by Laura.

    Taken as a whole, the good and the bad, Laura’s organizing is not, uh, universally celebrated around here.   Some of her causes and statements have not been particularly well received by quite a few folks.   Some narratives, like yours, describe “extraordinary organizing efforts” and “fighting back” on behalf of a neglected neighborhood.   There are other narratives around here that are rather less flattering.

    If you think of Laura simply as the voice of a beleaguered neighborhood, you’re ignoring a lot of people around here who don’t see it that way.   The neighborhood you are thinking about, when you imagine Laura in that role, excludes many who live there.

    About your worry:

    I surely hope that the city isn’t ignoring laws because neighbors don’t have the money or “societal status” to do anything about it.

    I wouldn’t go leaping to conclusions.    I sure hope the city is taking a deliberate, deliberative, and cautious approach to making sure they understand what is actually going on rather than reflexively asking “how high” when Laura says “jump”.   Let’s see where we are in a few weeks or 3 months.

    I may as well say for the record that this new place doesn’t quite “smell right” to me, either, so far.  My mind could be changed.   I don’t have any in-principle objection to a dispensary there.  I think it could be a great kick-start to this neighborhood — it could really improve the hyper-local economy in ways that could help this neighborhood a lot, in ways its needed help for years.    I can even tolerate a certain amount of “it’s easier to obtain forgiveness than permission” thinking from any kind of incoming new business that needs to bluster its way through the permitting system.   But so far I’m not impressed with the way these guys in particular are responding to the new controversy which suggests either they don’t have a good story here or they are just kind of oblivious to where they are — neither of which bodes well.

  16. @ Ryan Kerian — Berkeley resident Thomas Lord has knit-picking Laura’s posts on Berkeleyside for years, starting first with an account named “dasht” and now with this “Bruce Love” account.

    Laura puts herself out there and acts as a community organizer trying to change things for the better. Anyone who puts themselves out in the public eye like that in a city as loopy as Berkeley will invariably attract a few keyboard jockey haters like Tom.

    “I’ll only add that I think Ms. Menard has harmful political influence well beyond what might be justified by her positive contribution while, as neighbors go, she’s extremely influential. She seems, under the surface (to me), neither stupid or a person with necessarily evil intent. And so I try, here and there, to either engage or firmly refute her.”

    https://www.berkeleyside.org/2010/09/03/berkeley-restaurateur-is-woman-entrepreneur-of-2010/

  17. Laura, thanks — that’s right.  There was a fourth robbery, that time on Telegraph, in 2004. 

    John, that still seems “very uncommon,” I’m sure you’d agree.

  18. I happened to subscribe to the email alerts for this comment thread, so I keep seeing the back and forth on here between Laura, et al. It’s getting a little tiresome.

    Laura, for her part, is rightfully concerned about the situation and seems to be asserting things as facts that others are calling into doubt. No one, it seems, is doubting her good motives. If Laura is anything like me, she probably has read a lot of studies, news articles, commentaries, etc. and has distilled bits and pieces of all that data into chunks that easily fit into her memory. She’s not a walking almanac and does not have ready access to studies and data that back her commentary up (in all cases). Query whether, as a community activist, it might make sense for her to start doing that for future situations. Yet, I don’t really fault her.

    John Holland is trying to respectfully call into question some of Laura’s assertions and to remind us all that conjecture and speculation can be dangerous things, indeed. In all serious discussions it’s often helpful and a general good idea to stick with the facts or to at least make good faith arguments that we can back up in some manner. And, to some degree, it’s a good practice to keep us all focused on that task. At this point I wonder just how beneficial the continual questioning is as I believe his points have been made and noted. That said, I also don’t fault John.

    All of this being said, I think there is a much greater issue at play here. This is the issue that people like me are focused on. It is this: a medical marijuana dispensary that at least has the potential to disrupt public safety (or the important perception of public safety) has located to a neighborhood with a history of public safety problems in violation of Berkeley law. Is it just me, or is the main issue here that Berkeley sits idly by and lets this happen because the neighborhood doesn’t have the socioeconomic capital to have its voice heard? Doesn’t that piss anyone else off? Berkeley of all cities in this nation ought to value, respect and listen to all of its citizens and not stand by while a business thinly veiled as a “non-profit organization” takes advantage of a community that historically hasn’t had the power to fight back without extraordinary organizing efforts like those led by Laura. I, for one, am going to be deeply disappointed if the end result is that traditional socioeconomic power structures prevail in Berkeley. I’m not sure this is the case and I am admittedly a white male who was raised in an upper middle class background. I don’t purport to speak for anyone I’m not, but I surely hope that the city isn’t ignoring laws because neighbors don’t have the money or “societal status” to do anything about it. That doesn’t fly for me anywhere in the nation much less Berkeley. I truly invite people to let me know if I’m on track here. I’m not making an assertion. I’m just concerned and curious to see what people think.

  19. Bruce and John,

    I get it, your aim is personal. You change the context of my comment by dismantling my sentence and changing its meaning.

    You will have a hard time correcting at least 60 residents attending a public  meeting when the operator of Telegraph club stood up and responded “that’s right, we were robbed, they had guns, they made all of us lay down on the ground”.

    This is silly, why do you think security is so tight at BPG.

  20. John,  I appreciate your effort here to sort things out.  Here’s a correction:

    You wrote:

    Maybe, but I think it’s more likely that other businesses are robbed at gunpoint, first. I could be wrong about that, but I’m not aware of a dispensary being robbed at gunpoint in Berkeley yet, and they’ve been in business for years. If the risk was that high, wouldn’t it have happened by now already?

    In 2002, the “Berkeley Medical Herbs” dispensary, which was located on University Ave., voluntarily shuttered after it had been robbed 3 times in one year.

    http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2002-06-12/article/12602?headline=Pot-club-closes-following-robbery

    I’m pretty sure that’s been it for dispensary robberies.  There may be a confirmation bias in some people’s perception of the crime risks.

  21. Laura wrote, “during the Prop 19 campaign many new[s] stories contained quotes from the industry of estimates of  recreation[al] users as an argument for legalization.”

    This is made up.

    Laura wrote, “There are plenty of national surveys as well.”

    This is made up.

    How long before people start to wonder, “what’s not made up?”

    🙁

  22. Laura wrote: “I have more important things to accomplish than respond to you”

    Respond to me? Ha! I don’t deserve the dignity of a response! I’m just some lonely guy living in my mom’s basement. What a waste of your time!

    But, as a “vocal community leader,” I would think that maintaining your integrity with the community and the city would be essential as you pursue this cause.

    Let’s rewind: as part of your argument, you made two assertions:

    1. “It is well documented that the majority of customers are recreation[al] users.” – Laura Menard

    That is made up.

    2. “Shootings are not uncommon… at low security dispensaries and collectives.” – Laura Menard

    That is also made up.

    You seemed deadly serious about these concerns when raising them. But when asked for data to back up your claims, you suddenly dismissed that exercise as unimportant, and refused to provide original sources. (Except for some weird anecdote from a pot doc that says only 20% of the patients he sees are recreational users.)

    I’m just a big nobody. Who cares what I think? I’d blow me off, too!

    But you’re asking other good people to join you in support of your effort based on what you say. And these people should be able to trust that what you say has a basis in fact.

    So, for their sake (and yours) I’ll ask again: 

    Respectfully, please show us the data supporting these two assertions.

    Perhaps you believed these things to be true when you said them. In that case, this would be a good time to reassess your talking points, and apologize for mis-speaking. It would grow tedious to have to defend these points without data on an ongoing basis. 

    And if the data exists, people would love to see it, if for no other reason than to shut me up. It would, in fact, be compelling.

    The sad part is that I support your concerns about blight and crime in the neighborhood, whether it’s from a cannabis clinic, a liquor store, or a preschool. I don’t doubt that some patients fake it. And I don’t (yet) doubt your claims that the collective is a nuisance. I admire your dedication, tenacity, and service.

    You don’t need to use made-up stories to win people over to your cause. It harms people. It erodes credibility.

    And it actually kind of turns me off.

    But, then again: who cares what I think?

  23. John,

    First off, just because I have more important things to accomplish than respond to you doesn’t translate to making stuff up. Whatever……

    However, during the Prop 19 campaign many new stories contained quotes from the industry of estimates of  recreations users as an argument for legalization. There are plenty of national surveys as well. The industry acknowledge that the majority of customers at young males.

    Or how about you just park in the lot at BPG for an half hour, try Fridays.

    here is one link that took me two seconds to locate
    http://www.mcsocal.com/blog/what-percentage-of-medical-marijuana-prop-215-patients-are-recreational-users-in-california

    see ya, I have work to do.

  24. BTW, I did find this in the study I linked to earlier:

    Critics have argued that some MM patients are “gaming the system” to get marijuana for nonmedical use. Neither our data nor any other data we are aware of allow any clear-cut, empirical estimate of the scale of such diversion. Given the widespread nonmedical use marijuana in the general population (102,404,000 Americans report lifetime prevalence; see SAMHSA 2010) and the risk of arrest (847,864 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses in 2008, 754,224 or 88.96% of them for possession alone; FBI 2009), it seems likely that at least some MM patients use MM dispensaries as sources of supply for nonmedical use.

    It’s worth reading the following paragraphs also.

  25. Sharky wrote: “I think that one is common enough knowledge that it doesn’t really need to be documented.”

    At least we’re in agreement that Laura’s claim that, “It is well documented that the majority of customers are recreation users” was made up.

    In contrast, your observation about the Yelp reviews was refreshingly honest and reasonable. And verifiable.

    When people exaggerate (or worse) they lose credibility and weaken their argument.
    Given your observation about yelp, I have a different conclusion, I still believe that the good outweighs the bad. But you make a good and honest point.

    As for those “actual sick people [who] feel stigmatize[d] while waiting in long lines on Fridays when the dispensary [is] packed with local 20 somethings obtaining meds for weekend fun,” I suspect they’re grateful for the opportunity to buy their medicine in a long line of 20 somethings in an ugly storefront, as opposed to seeking it out in People’s Park, or who knows where.

    I’m sure those who grieve the stigma these patients feel will continue to push for the ongoing legitimacy of medical cannabis. Or, maybe that compassion was made up, too!

    The likely answer saddens me.

  26. BPG may be legal, but it’s a real shame that they don’t do sobriety tests on their patrons before allowing them to leave after they “medicate” themselves in their establishment.

    While I was walking by last week I saw a man who was clearly high as a kite exit BPG, stumble over to a bicycle, get on it, and then promptly crash directly into a tree and fall into the middle of the road on San Pablo.

     Nobody from BPG came out to help the man, and if it hadn’t been for some attentive drivers and pedestrians helping him he could have easily been run over by traffic.

  27. 40 Acres is becoming a more serious problem week by week. I’ve witnessed what appear to be hand-to-hand drug sales or distribution at the corner of San Pablo and Delaware several times in recent months. As far as I can tell, nothing is being done about it.

  28. Or perhaps the voters in Berkeley are generally a bit dense and did not understand the confusing wording of JJ or the way in which it could be easily abused so that extralegal pot stores could set up shop next to schools.

  29. I dunno, John. I think that one is common enough knowledge that it doesn’t really need to be documented. There’s plenty of information on the web about how to scam the system to get a medical marijuana card without having an illness, and plenty of Yelp reviews for unscrupulous doctors in the Bay Area who will sell medical marijuana cards to anyone who asks.

  30. 40 Acres is in West Berkeley, 3 pgs is in South Berkeley – both are being run illegitimately. Berkeley Patients Group is near Dwight Way in South Berkeley, but is running within the legal boundaries of the City. The other two need to be shut down until such a time that it is legal for them to operate. And I agree, South Berkeley doesn’t need two pot businesses. 

  31. PPPG HAS THE BEST MEDS IN TOWN.  I TRIED ALL COLLECTIVES AND DISPENSARIES IN THE CITY OF BERKELEY.  THEY ARE THE CHEAPEST AND GIVE THE MOST. ALL PROP 215 PATIENTS SHOULD CONSIDER MEMBERSHIP.

  32. I’m sure you were involved – I just think that your recollection and understanding of the events is a bit unreliable (e.g., “staff did not revoke the permit” and “the permit was revoked because”).

    Two days after BCRN got the permit it was revoked.  City Planning Commissioner Rhodes explained he’d heard rumors that CBCB wanted to dispense from the new location.   CBCB and BCRN stated that they wouldn’t dispense from there without city permission and  neighborhood approval.   Rhodes said they had erred in not disclosing that they were even thinking of the possibility of one day dispensing from that location — so, basically the permit was revoked as punishment for a thought crime.

    Anyway, re: “Measure JJ removed the public hearing to make it easier for
    collectives and dispensaries to locate knowing full well that most
    neighborhoods would not endorse relocation.”

    It passed with almost 63% of the vote.   The text on the ballot begins: “Shall the City’s ordinances be amended to require the City to issue a permit to medical marijuana dispensaries as a matter of right and without a public hearing,”

    An overwhelming majority voted that no hearing ought to be necessary.

    Perhaps that is because it was perceived that, before measure JJ, a vocal minority could unjustly and unreasonably chase away dispensaries.

  33. Thanks, interesting that the pot club standard is about half the distance of proximity requirements for smoke shops, which exceeds the state standard.  Again very inconsistent health standards, but politically advantageous.

  34. Not exactly,  the permit was revoked  because CBCB lied to the planning dept purposely, failing to disclose their intentions to sell marijuana. Once outed they enlisted Don Duncan (60 minutes once called Duncan an elder statesman in the world of medical marijuana) to meet with the neighborhood group. It quickly become painfully obvious that CBCB was a very poorly managed organization, Duncan admitted so much. They were clueless about violent crime issues on Sacramento St and unprepared to protect vulnerable patients from robbery. They did not have any kind of security plan. Some of the collective members openly expressed concerns and doubt about safety at the Sacramento St location.

    The city did not mistreat CBCB on the contrary CBCB attempted to obtain a zoning certificate fraudulently and were caught. They knew convincing the neighborhood  would be difficult, so they lied to the planning dept.

    The community convinced the landlord that renting to this poorly managed operations was not in their best interest.

    Measure JJ removed the public hearing to make it easier for collectives and dispensaries to locate knowing full well that most neighborhoods would not endorse relocation.

    Once again you have all the right answers, yet you were not even involved.
    I was.

  35. The use permit was revoked two days after it was issued in 2004.   Measure JJ passed overwhelmingly in 2008, partly in response to the treatment the city had shown CBCB.

  36. Laura,  The proximity standard was updated to address private as well as public schools (I believe that was the fallout from when Berkeley Patients Group was going to move into the old Scharffen Berger facility).  See the following section of the BMC.
    23E.16.070 Medical
    Cannabis Uses
     A.
        2. Medical
    cannabis dispensaries may not be located within 600 feet
    of another medical cannabis
    dispensary or a public or private elementary, middle or high school.
    Here is the link to Ordinance 7,161 signed on Dec 9, 2010:
    http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/uploadedFiles/Clerk/Level_3_-_Commissions/Ordinance%207,161.pdf

     

  37. Staff did not revoked the use permit, the landlord was persuaded not to lease to a pot club.
    Measure JJ was written by the local MM industry specifying that only a zoning certificate is required thus avoiding a public review process. The public voted for this.

  38. Exactly. Why does San Pablo Park have 2 pot-based businesses within walking distance? Are other (nicer?) parts of town served by multiple pot businesses?

  39. My mistake, not the editors.

    I tried to edit the addresses because of the duplications that appeared when I simply  cut and pasted from my address book . Here is the list of city council members plus interim city manager and police chief.
    If you add clerk@ci.berkeley.ca.us the message is included in the council packet.
     

  40. Would this be allowed in North Berkeley? A lot of people are trying to improve this struggling area, but we don’t get any help from our city council, who ‘encourages’ these types of businesses to locate here. Do us a favor and move to Solano, Westbrae, or the Elmwood. Don’t come to South Berkeley!

  41. I for one am extremely disgusted  by the City Council non-action in allowing these weed businesses to continue to operate. 501c corporations can and do make significant amounts of money — they pay out the profit by way of salaries and bonuses. See Kaiser Permanente as a prime example; their top executives make enormous amounts of money. They are businesses, and everyone I know who opens a business does it to make money. I’m sure Cannibis collectives are no different. 

    There is also impact on the neighborhood, for example – the folks at Spanish Table told me that the weed vapor from 40 Acres is significant enough to get their staff high. It may not bother the person I spoke to, but it would bother me if I were shopping there, and if I had my grandchildren with me. 3pgs has weed smokers hanging out in front. I’ve seen people passing joints in front of 3pgs, which is very close to a Longfellow school and likely that kids walk there going to and from. 

    The city needs to stop this nonsense. 

  42. And, unfortunately, I fear the line, “It is well documented that the majority of customers are recreation users,” was just made up. : (

  43. Tizzielish, the question was just: “now explain how a membership organization is a business.”  I did just that.

    Before that I corrected the false assertion that a collective can’t be a business.

    You’re bringing up a different question:  “But at no point do you discuss how a medical marijuana dispensary that is, if the initial berkeleyside article is accurate, a non-profit relates to Berkeley ordnances about membership organizations.”

    Medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives may operate in Berkeley, subject to various restrictions.  (See 12.26, 23 generally, 23E16.070, and 23E.52.030 for the case at hand.)

    Either kind of organization may operate a retail district dispensary subject mainly to a quota restriction but otherwise only requiring a zoning certificate in a commercial district.

    The quota limitation  puts this place in a bind.   A lot of things they might do wrong are things they could correct but it would take council or a ballot measure to raise or lift the quota.

    The case against them would go something like:

    They appear to operate as a dispensary, by their own account.

    While they are arguably in a zone where dispensaries can (since measure JJ) operate by right,  they still face the problem of the quotas.

    Since the quota is full up, they could not or at least should not have received a business license to operate a dispensary — but the report doesn’t make clear what the status of all that is.

    Let’s suppose, though, that either council were to raise the quota;  or consider itself likely enough to soon raise the quota that it was worth giving these guys time to correct;  or that the quota was mysteriously inapplicable for some reason … or for whatever reason that they get a proper license and can operate based just on the zoning certificate.

    Then the nuisance factors people are suggesting can come into play.   For that, the Medical Cannabis Commission rules alluded to in the comments can be helpful – but aren’t necessarily definitive.   For example, the rules “require” a 1,000 foot distance from schools or other dispensaries but see  23E.16.070.A.2  It might also be worth noting that bona fide nuisance complaints must be not only sincere, but have a reasonable basis in fact.    For example, pure speculation about the degree of diversion, or fears based on the behavior of different organizations at different times may be sincere but…

  44. Bruce love, your long comment below is deceptively informational.  You cite lots of bits of info relalated to non-profit and for-profit corporations, you make vague statements about corporate law and even vaguer statements about Berkeley ordnances. But at no point do you discuss how a medical marijuana dispensary that is, if the initial berkeleyside article is accurate, a non-profit relates to Berkeley ordnances about membership organizations.

    Along the ways, folks have muddled a crack (perhaps a joke?) reminding folks here that the Cheeseboard is a collective.  Comparing Cheeseboard, a work-ownered collective in a radically different business than a medical marijuana dispensary  . . you might as well compare apples and moon rocks and analyze vague knowledge about corporate law, federal and state laws related to for-profit and non-profits. .. you write in deceptive erudition without actually saying, um, anything.

  45. John, I like the way you point out that Laura muddles her ‘facts’. I notice that she responded to your observations by representing some muddled facts. She seems to insist that her dubious assertion that shootings are common at dispensaries is, weirdly, substantiated by her confusing reference to crime at a grow house — which is not a dispensary — and by citing security standards. Security standards for a dispensary do not prove her claims at all.

    I tend to agree with laura but she makes her case weakly.

    Laura, a shooting at a grow site does not have anything to do with a new dispensary’s risk of shootings.  You are reporting what I suspect are your own personal, projected fears.

    I believe you when you say you got your “information” from BPD but you don’t appear to be very skilled at reading what the actual ‘information’ actually says.  You do not cite a single instance of a shooting at a dispensary.

  46. Send emails to :

    “Daniel, Christine” , “Meehan, Michael” , “City Clerk” , “Moore, Darryl” , “Anderson, Maxwell” , “Berkeley Mayor’s Office” , LCapitelli@ci.berkeley.ca.us, “Wengraf, Susan” , “Wozniak, Gordon” , “Maio, Linda” , “Worthington, Kriss” , jarreguin@ci.berkeley.ca.us,

    If needed I will organize a community meeting soon, I am waiting to hear back from various city officials as to their plans in this matter.

  47. It seems to me that there are a number of concerned residents regarding this issue, including myself. It also seems that some sort of organized effort to urge the city to enforce its zoning regulations in this instance, as well as to hear our concerns, may be more effective than individual efforts. While I am in no position to coordinate such an effort, I am certainly interested in supporting it. I hope someone out there would be willing to coordinate an email, letter writing or phone calling campaign, to name a few suggestions.

  48. Teenagers hang out in San Pablo Park in the afternoon and smoke pot as well. I’ve encountered them when walking my dog and/or bringing my daughter home from preschool. Having a new dispensary/collective three blocks east of the park seems like it will make it even easier for kids to get access, especially if there is an uptick in dealing and other illegal activity on Sacramento.

    Berkeley Patients Group is also close to the park–just three blocks west. I often see customers drive from the dispensary, park near the park, and smoke in their cars. In our neighborhood, we are hemmed in on both sides. This is very upsetting.

  49. It’s kind of funny.   Back when CBCB was stopped from relocating to this area, retail district dispensaries required an administrative use permit.    Staff revoked the permit and CBCB declined to appeal.

    These days, after measure JJ passed overwhelmingly in 2008, a zoning certificate (and sufficient distance from schools and other dispensaries) is all that is needed — except as limited by the quota system — just like ice cream shops on Solano.

  50. There was a shooting with a injury at a grow site in west Berkeley in the week between the two city council meetings discussing regulatory issues with grow sites, collectives and dispensaries. This incident was not discussed by city council members as is usual in the pot industry where crime in undereported for obvious reasons.

    I can recall a few robberies via gun in Berkeley, including a pistol whipping take over style robbery of the Telegraph dispensary by people with a valid ID.

    Check with BPD, which is how I obtained my information.

  51. http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/uploadedFiles/Planning_and_Development/Level_3_-_Commissions/Commission_for_Medical_Cannabis/OperatingandSafetyStandards%281%29.pdf

    All Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) must meet these operating and
    safety standards:

    E. Security Standard: An MCD shall have on duty, half an hour before and
    after, and during, all hours of operation, a minimum of one security provider, plus an additional security provider per each 2,000 square feet of floor area directly accessible to qualified patients and primary caregiver for services, not including restricted areas such as private offices, storage areas, break areas, and other private areas.

  52. The city commission approved operating standards in 2008.
    http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/uploadedFiles/Planning_and_Development/Level_3_-_Commissions/Commission_for_Medical_Cannabis/OperatingandSafetyStandards%281%29.pdf

     here are two relevant sections:

    All Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) must meet these operating and
    safety standards:

    A. Sensitive Use Proximity Standard: Per BMC 12.26.130, no MCD shall be
    located within a 1,000-foot range of any public elementary, intermediate, or high
    school.

    Community and Good Neighbor Standard: An MCD shall have a policy to
    maintain a good reputation in its immediate community and neighborhood. It shall
    respond to any community complaints or concerns swiftly. It shall provide contact
    information for an ombudsperson to the immediate community and
    neighborhood. A history of bona fide community complaints unaddressed by the
    MCD shall be grounds for city enforcement action against an existing MCD or for
    denial of an application for a proposed MCD or an application for relocation.

  53. Laura wrote, “Shootings are not uncommon at… low security dispensaries and collectives.”

    No they’re not. Unless if by “not uncommon”, you meant “rarely”. A Google news search for shootings at marijuana dispensaries brings up a few hits, but it’s certainly not statistically relevant to suggest they are shooting risks. Throwing in “grow sites” and “transport” is irrelevant to this scenario.

    Laura wrote: “It is well documented that the majority of customers are recreation users.”

    No, it’s not. Could you point me to that study, please? Or, were you making that up, too? Perhaps this is the report that you were referring to, but if so, I’m sure you are aware that this report is more nuanced that are suggesting. But where is the other documentation you have? I would love to see it!

    Laura wrote: “This place on Sacramento will eventually be robbed, I just hope no one is hurt.”

    Maybe, but I think it’s more likely that other businesses are robbed at gunpoint, first. I could be wrong about that, but I’m not aware of a dispensary being robbed at gunpoint in Berkeley yet, and they’ve been in business for years. If the risk was that high, wouldn’t it have happened by now already?

  54. The fact is that the Council Members view POT as as source of tax revenue.  What else do we need to know about why the City allows this to happen

  55. Thanks, Laura. I live quite close to Sacramento and Oregon and I want this “business” gone. It has no place there in clear violation of Berkeley laws and so close to a school. Frankly, I think it’s unbelievable that the city doesn’t seem to care.

  56. John,

    This “business” is cash only, there is no security guards or fencing as exist at the other pot clubs.

    Collectives were never intended to be cash businesses under prop 215.

    Years ago CBCB tried to locate on Sacramento St. They were a very poorly managed dispensary, and will all the illegal street sales and gun violence in the area the city of Berkeley recognized this would be a very bad idea. The city assisted in blocking the relocation of CBCB on Sacramento St.

    It is well documented that the majority of customers are recreation users. Shootings are not uncommon at grow sites, during transport, and at low security dispensaries and collectives.

    Nothing cruel or stigmatizing about acknowledging facts.

    Quite the opposite, it is not uncommon for actual sick people to feel stigmatize while waiting in long lines on Fridays when the dispensary are packed  with local 20 somethings obtaining meds for weekend fun.

    This place on Sacramento will eventually be robbed, I just hope no one is hurt.

  57. Look at what they have to contend with. For every sane, logical voter who wants to see the city cut costs, operate efficiently, and take care of basic infrastructure needs first before engaging in political theater there is a screeching wingnut who shows up at every city council meeting and wants the Peace & Justice Commission to write up a new petition every five minutes attacking or supporting whatever their latest cause is rather than getting down to the business of running a city efficiently and within budget.

    The middle ground between practicality and screeching wingnuttery is complete inaction.

  58. What does medicine have to do with a drive by shooting? I’m confused.

    Or, was this a cruel attempt to stigmatize sick people as criminals?

  59. No Cannabis “Collectives”!  Not in our struggling commercial districts and CERTAINLY NOT in our residential neighborhoods!  Can’t they stick these in some way off the path place like off the freeway somewhere where those of us who don’t want to deal with this culture don’t have to. 

  60. Is anybody else as disgusted as i am with The mayor and the city council members? how did these folks get elected and stay in office? am i the only one outraged with the level of service we are getting? I can’t believe anyone could actually say they are satisfied with our city leaders…something has to change!

  61.  3PG is on the west side of Sacramento, activity in this stretch affects neighborhoods on both sides of the street,  the city council districts boundaries are divided down Sacramento St..

    Yeah, why doesn’t Anderson or Moore take up this problem.
    It is their job and they have paid staff to assist.

  62. Hi Ryan and Keslie,

    I live on the north side of Ashby, east of Sacramento, police beat 12.
     For over a decade our area was organized as ROC neighborhood group, referring to Russell, Oregon and California St.  We used to meet nearly every month at YAP, the Young Adult Project. We stopped meeting regularly in fall 2009, seems like it is time to start up again. I maintain a notification elist based on emails from  those who sign up at meetings.

    Lorin neighborhood, located on the south side of Ashby east of Sacramento St, has a yahoo discussion group and covers south Berkeley issues. You can join at
    ldna-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

    There is a new group getting started covering beat 11 area, I think they call themselves Lorin Neighbors. Not sure how to get on their list.

    Feel free to look me up in the phone book so we can exchange email addresses.

  63. I would also like to know how to get on the listserve.  I imagine many Malcolm X families would be concerned as well.   My husband and 5 year old have seen preteens smoking marijuana near Grove Park in the mornings.  

  64. What the are doing is against City, State and Federal law.  I’m sure the cowards in Berkeley City Government would like nothing better than to have the Feds come in and clean up this mess for them.  Then the city council could stand at the podium cursing the evil DEA all the while breathing a collective sigh of relief that they didn’t have to actually do anything.

  65. They’re not primary caregivers.  The people growing for them are not primary caregivers. This operation is not legal under state law.  The best example of what was intended when the law was written is that transportation of mj is NOT LEGAL.  That’s because the law intended for a primary caregiver to be able to grow a little MJ for a terminally ill patient in their living space.  What’s happening in Berkeley, and what has been happening in Vallejo is a perversion of the law.  Berkeley needs to either enforce it’s own rules or do away with rules altogether.

  66. The thing I find most disturbing is that it is somehow
    (apparently) legal to open up a “medical marijuana collective” in any home in Berkeley. I’d hate to imagine one of these collectives going into a house on my block. Is this just some Berkeley rule? Is it
    state-wide? What is this law?

    The proximity to the school makes this location a complete no-go. But I
    have to agree with Thomas on one point: As bad as that storefront looks,
    it’s less disruptive to have this sort of place in a commercial zone
    than on a residential street.

  67. laura sez:  “One of the code enforcement officers and asst city manager Jim Hynes both told me that this was above their level of authority to start corrective action.” 

    So is there some salary savings to be had here?  A little bit could go a long way toward a fabulous window treatment.  Let’s anoint a commission to consider what color the [delivery] bicycle shed.
     
    But seriously, No corrective action, no law: is indeed “Wild Wild West”, as in Tom Bates memorable cowboy impression at Council:  “… Shoot em up, Turn em loose!” ” Haaaw Haaaw”    I guess Hon. does indeed partake of mood-enhanced moments.  Am so glad it also works for Eric Thomas. 

  68. Well, Laurie,  honestly your question seems pretty confused: “BL/TL . now explain how a membership organization is a business.”

    We’re talking about a 501(c)3 corporation organized as a California not-for-profit corporation.   The “501(c)3” part refers to the corporation’s status under federal tax law.   The state registration part involves filing articles of incorporation, registering a service address, listing officers, paying various fees, probably registering a fictitious business name, and various other details I don’t recall off the top of my head.

    The corporate form affords the owners a partial liability shield.  It enables the corporation to form contracts including hiring employees, buying and owning property, obtaining business licenses, and so forth.  These corporations are required to file reports to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board as well as to collect and pay sales tax.   Corporate officers have legal fiduciary duties to the business. 

    In general, business law applies to this form of corporation unless the code contains an explicit exemption.

    If we’re talking specifically about a “membership org” in the formal sense, members have rights to vote for the board of directors or vote to liquidate the firm.

    Here in Berkeley, some parts of the local ordinances make some distinctions between profits and non-profits while others do not.  A business like Goodwill, Inc.’s branches in Berkeley presumably have ordinary business licenses and so forth.

  69. OK,  it will take me a little bit to organize and will announce the meeting here and on the neighborhood listserve.

    I contacted Longfellow principal and BUSD district staff a few weeks ago, they are concerned.

  70. Laura,
    Please rally the neighborhood and Longfellow parents to “take back the block.”  I’ll come if you’ll announce it.

  71. Not to mention the fact that the dispensaries and collectives also donate generously to their reelection campaigns as a form or payola/protection money.  Even the fictional Mafia figure, Don Corleone would not get involved in the drug racket because it’s a “dirty business” that “gets kids hooked.”

  72. re: “Prop 215 does not define a collective as a business, as this operator does.”

    The court and state attorney general both recognize that a “collective” — a term not specifically defined anywhere in California law – can take many forms including that of a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organized as a membership organization.

    The AG guidelines contain advice for membership-based, non-profit collectives.

  73. The connection between dispensary and collectives with street sales is real, under Berkeley dispensary rules people can purchase up to 2 oz daily. If we really are serious about slowing street sales, lower the daily limit to reduce the number of  wholesale customers.

  74. “Medical cannabis dispensaries may not be located
    within 600 feet of another medical cannabis
    dispensary or a public or private elementary, middle or high school.”
    Oh wait, no need to get out your tape measures as this is a collective.

  75. The  “right” procedure for complaints is exactly as I did, and mind you, no one on the cityside in a position of authority got back to me, despite numerous phone calls following up on the email complaint. The cops were helpful, I believe they notified the city code enforcement unit over a month ago when merchants made complaints, prior to my complaint.

    I personally phoned numerous city council members and left a few messages for interim city manager Christine Daniels, supervisor of code enforcement and with the code enforcement manager after sending the email.

    One of the code enforcement officers and asst city manager Jim Hynes both told me that this was above their level of authority to start corrective action.

    One of these days Berkeleyside should do a comparison of various city code enforcement operations, most cities consider code enforcement directly linked to public safety goals and have a clearly defined web based complaint process.
    San Jose residents benefit from city council members tracking the resolution of complaints in their districts.

    Prop 215 does not define a collective as a business, as this operator does.

  76. I have to say that there is a very real problem of underage folks, meaning kids! smoking pot either on their
    lunch break or when they should be in school. I don’t know if the proliferation of medicinal marijuana dispensaries contribute to this or not, but any potential connection is worth some sort of scrutiny.

    I live near Grove Street Park and see kids who should be in school either hanging at the park smoking, or walking down the street smoking.  I have seen this almost every
    day since school started. I just called Berkeley High, this past week,
     and they were cooperative and said that they would alert a resource or safety officer to the issue
    and pay attention to this area. I have not called BTech or Longfellow or Willard, yet. These kids are either
    high school age or middle school age. If we are going to address the issue of the achievement gap and
    create city/school district committees to study this issue, let’s begin by not turning a blind eye to this problem.

    Pot might work as medicine for all kinds of ailments, and I totally support the right of ADULTS to put what they want to into their bodies as long as they don’t harm others, (and let us hope not themselves). However,
    teens smoking pot at lunch or during school hours (or after school) should not be an accepted practice of
    our community as most people do not remember what they think they are learning when they are high.

      For some reason, it is starting to seem like we are condoning these behaviors as the kids are so blatant about their smoking, it seems like they almost want to get caught. I have two
    kids at BHS and if they should ever be seen smoking or drinking alcohol when they should be in school I
    would want someone to contact the school so we could address the problem. 

    I believe in this “village” thing!

    Diana Rossi
    South Berkeley Resident and Parent of Two in BUSD

  77. Yeah, definitely ban cheese-based collectives. That stuff is super addicting and expensive — so many families are being destroyed by expensive cheese buying habits in North Berkeley. Something must be done.

  78. By the looks of that building this is an industry in need of regulation or it will end badly. If I lived in that neighborhood I would chase them out of town fast. And why even bother to call it “medical” cannabis.

  79. Perhaps they can spend some of their profit and have the front windows frosted. That store front looks terrible.

  80. “The group had to shut down its El Sobrante location in late July because it was located in unincorporated Solano County”

    … El Sobrante is in Contra Costa County.

  81. it’s hard for Berkeley city council to do anything about this without looking like hypocrites because they all partake of the plant…Do you really expect them to take a stand unless being forced to do so?

  82. instead of worrying about the nuke free zone how about the drug free zone around Longfellow middle school?
    this should be a federal offense selling an illegal drug in the vicinity of a middle school…anyone?
    there is a Ca law that states…Possession of greater than 28.5 grams or more of marijuana in a school
    zone is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. BTW this Building is in the school zone because the crosswalk in front is subject to the school zone traffic laws while school is in session!

  83. A hands off attitude is not the way to go with this group or 40 acres, but I think there are some legal issues with cities issuing dispensary licenses. Any other guess why the city is silent…???

  84. That storefront looks awful — would we allow any other business to block their windows with trash bags? Would this be allowed on Solano or 4th street?  That is not ok in a neighborhood that is working so hard to make things better. The city needs to get on this issue quickly. If we have a rule against collectives in commercial districts, enforce it.

  85. I know where that is.  It’s just a block away from a MIDDLE SCHOOL.  Wasn’t there a DRIVE BY SHOOTING there last year?  Thanks, Kriss, for encouraging this.  

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