Eric Thomas, who runs Perfect Plants Patient’s Group, at the collective in 2011
Eric Thomas, who runs Perfect Plants Patient’s Group, at the collective in 2011

The sign for Perfect Plants Patients Group is still in the window of 2840-B Sacramento Street, but the cannabis collective has closed up shop, according to its owner, Eric Thomas.

The collective shut its doors on Nov. 14, the day after the Berkeley City Council held a public hearing that determined the collective was a nuisance and was in violation of zoning laws, according to Thomas. While he moved out his product, many files, and some furniture that day, the landlord changed the locks on Nov. 15 when Thomas did not pay the next month’s rent. He has been unable to get inside to retrieve the last of his possessions and take out the sign, he said.

Thomas has no firm plans to reopen the collective, which has been operating since September 2011. He runs another 3PG in Vallejo and he is offering Berkeley clients a 25% discount on medicine purchased there, he said. 3PG is also doing Berkeley deliveries from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We love the city of Berkeley but unfortunately the zoning doesn’t allow us to be there,” said Thomas. “We tried our hardest to convince the city council, but they ordered us to close it down. We closed it down immediately.”

The council voted Nov. 27 on a resolution to shut 3PG after determining it was a collective operating in a commercial area. Only the city’s three permitted dispensaries are allowed to operate in a commercial zone; collectives must be in residential areas and be “incidental” to the building’s use. The council also determined that 3PG was less than 600 feet from Longfellow Middle School, the minimum required under Berkeley’s zoning laws.

The city has fined Thomas and the owner of the building, Lian Rui Tan, $12,500 each for violating the law. Thomas said he has paid $2,000 of his fine but is appealing the rest. He contends that 3PG is more than 600 feet from Longfellow Middle School. He hired Morain Engineering to do a survey and it showed the distance was 619 feet, said Thomas.

Despite having to close his operation, Thomas said he was not bitter about the experience. He said he wanted to thank the residents of Berkeley for their patronage, as well as those who opposed his operation, including the Sacramento Street  Improvement Association.

Ryan Kerian, one of the neighbors leading the fight to close 3PG, said he is not entirely convinced the collective has moved.

“I’ve seen the lights off,” he said. “I haven’t seen anyone coming in or out for awhile, which I feel happy about but I don’t trust the word of Eric Thomas, or the landlord for that matter.”

Kerian said that 3PG closed for a few days after the Zoning Adjustments Board ruled that it was a nuisance, but later reopened. He is wary that once the city’s attention is diverted, that might happen again.

Still, the neighborhood seems calmer. “I have noticed a lot less loitering. I have noticed a lot less pot smoking and all the problems we have been complaining about,” said Kerian.

Berkeley moves to shut down cannabis collective [09.26.12]
Berkeley orders two cannabis collectives to shut down [02.22.12]
Councilmember: Look at unauthorized cannabis collectives [12.06.11]
Rapid growth of cannabis collective raises concerns [9.20.11]
Concerns raised about new medical cannabis collective [10.27.11]
Commission ponders growth of unlicensed pot clubs [11.4.11]
Southside residents contend with a spate of shootings [03.30.12]
Sacramento Street shooting victim dies, arrest made [03.30.12]
Shooting on Sacramento and Oregon, victim wounded [03.29.12]
No known injuries in Monday shooting on Russell [03.18.12]
Dec. 23 shooting involved five men with guns [03.07.12]

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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...