Police recovered 18 pounds of marijuana at a Gilman Street homeless encampment Saturday. Photo: BPD
Police recovered 18 pounds of marijuana at a Gilman Street homeless encampment Saturday. Photo: BPD

Two Berkeley Police officers on foot patrol at a Gilman Street homeless encampment over the weekend reportedly found 18 pounds of marijuana inside a tent that smelled of weed.

Berkeley Police Lt. Kevin Schofield, a department spokesman, said the officers were doing a security check near Gilman and the Eastshore Highway at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they came across a tent that smelled strongly of marijuana.

Last week, after Caltrans installed a large fence beneath the I-80 freeway on Gilman where dozens of homeless people had been camping, many of those individuals reportedly moved their tents over to the Eastshore Highway and Gilman, local residents have told Berkeleyside.

Inside the tent, police said they found 18 pounds of pot in a garbage bag, 25 cans of butane, and what they determined to be a hash oil cultivation system.

Schofield said the butane can be used in the cooking process to create hash oil from the marijuana.

Authorities also found a replica pistol and a switchblade knife, he said. 

Police arrested 40-year-old Michael Nelson on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, illegally manufacturing narcotics, possession of narcotics for sale and possession of the switchblade knife. All four are listed as felonies.

Nelson was scheduled to have been arraigned Monday morning at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

According to the latest information from the Alameda County sheriff’s office, he is being held with a bail of $65,000.

Have a question about a local public safety incident? Write to crime@berkeleyside.com. Photographs and videos are always appreciated. (This story was updated shortly after publication with information from the sheriff’s office.)

To curtail camping, Caltrans builds new fence on Gilman (08.05.16)
Homeless advocates say officials are dumping too many prized personal possessions (08.03.16)
UC Berkeley’s Suitcase Clinic: Services for the homeless, life lessons for the volunteers (07.12.16)
City erects fence at Gilman to deal with homeless campers (07.07.16)
Gilman Street underpass: For many, the poster child of Berkeley homeless camps (06.29.16)
Authorities clear out Gilman homeless camp in Berkeley (06.16.16)
Berkeley homeless encampment at Old City Hall packs up under city orders (12.04.15)
Ohlone Park neighbors brainstorm about homeless influx (10.26.15)
Homeless move to railroad tracks after Gilman ‘cleanup’ (07.30.14)
Rodents, trash prompt cleanup of homeless camp on Gilman; residents ‘scattered’ (07.18.14)
City of Berkeley gives Gilman Street homeless a reprieve (07.10.14)
Caltrans fence forces homeless to find new camp (04.10.14)
Berkeley dumps possessions of 8 homeless people (01.07.14)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...